Ipswich: Sports club is now a political football

tHE saga over the future of the Ransomes sports club took a new turn last week when the Conservatives issued a press release in association with the club attacking the stance of the borough council.

The release was sent by Rushmere councillor Judy Terry – who is not standing for re-election this year – just eight days before the election in which Labour’s Alasdair Ross is defending his Rushmere seat.

It hinted that the borough wanted to sell the sports ground for housing.

And it also included a quote from club chairman Peter Gorham who said: “Over the years, we have had meeting after meeting with the council, and lots of promises have been made, but nothing happened.”

Given that from 2004 to 2011 the council was run by a Conservative/LibDem coalition and that from 2004 to 2010 Mrs Terry was portfolio holder for leisure (which includes sport), some might say it was a courageous move for her to put out this press release.

Labour councillors insist that developing Ransomes for housing is not an option because planning rules prevent putting homes on sports fields.

However, the release of the press release has certainly put the wind up Labour – they had expected to retain Rushmere quite handsomely and now fear that the Tories could be galvanised into action over what they see as a non-issue.

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I’m not convinced that the storm will actually have much effect on the election in Rushmere Ward – I doubt it will change many minds although it could persuade those supporters of one party or another who had not intended to vote to go to the polling station after all.

Introducing the issue of the future of the Ransomes Sports ground into the political debate at the end of an election campaign is a curious decision.

The Conservatives clearly feel there could be political capital to be made here – but that could badly backfire.

In fact it does look a bit like the final throw of the dice in the ward for a party that knows it’s unlikely to unseat an extremely active and well-known opponent in Thursday’s election.

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