Is snobbery at the heart of objections?

ONCE again the residents of north Ipswich and the village of Westerfield are preparing their weapons to fight any question of building hundreds of new homes.

ONCE again the residents of north Ipswich and the village of Westerfield are preparing their weapons to fight any question of building hundreds of new homes.

I do have sympathy for them - especially those who live near Westerfield station who would find themselves absorbed into the town after living the countryside for years.

However some of the concerns which have been raised from within the town do seem to be over-reactions from people who are trying to jump hurdles long before they reach them.

And while many people may have a point of view when discussing future housing needs, I do hope that in the final analysis a completely impartial view is taken.

It would be a tragedy for the town if the development didn't go ahead simply because of opposition from a small group of articulate middle-class homeowners who didn't want hundreds of oiks moving in a mile up the road.

Frankly the people who decide on what homes are needed where need to take account of the big picture - and of the needs of the town as a whole. It is good news that last year 98 per cent of new homes in Ipswich were built on brownfield sites - but that does in itself contain a serious problem.

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While there were some family homes in those developments, the overwhelming majority were small flats - mainly for sale at a price out of reach of Ipswich residents.

What is needed in the town is many more family homes - and family homes at affordable prices. That means homes for housing association tenants.

There are concerns that new homes in the north of Ipswich will increase traffic using Henley Road, Westerfield Road, and Tuddenham Road. But I can't escape the feeling that some of the objections to these new homes are motivated by snobbery.

This is the “nice” area of Ipswich, the part of town that people aspire to live in. It isn't the kind of area where there are council houses or small semis for young families.

I'm sure no one has rationalised their objections in those terms, but I can't get away from the feeling that this feeling does lay at the heart of some of the objections.

But whatever happens to the northern fringe of Ipswich is many, many years away.

Everyone at the borough accepts that nothing will happen there until the next decade, probably well into the next decade.

And if that means the residents of the leafy suburbs will be having sleepless nights for the next ten years then they really do need to find something else to worry about.

A COUPLE of weeks ago I was speculating that former county council chief executive Lin Homer might be feeling as if she's leapt out of the frying pan into the fire after leaving Birmingham City Council for the Home Office.

I've even heard one political commentator describe her prospects, after supporting new Home Secretary John Reid in his appearance before an MPs' committee as “worse than those of a battery hen.”

But I'm reliably informed that all these reports of Mrs Homer's demise as head of the department's immigration and nationality directorate are very, very premature.

In fact the situation is actually quite the opposite. Mr Reid (who seems to have dropped the Dr - as in PhD - from his title over the last few weeks) has been most impressed by Mrs Homer.

I've been told that he's rapidly assessed the senior staff in the Home Office and come to the conclusion that she is one of three senior civil servants around which he wants to restructure his department.

“Reid's not too impressed with many of his staff - but that doesn't include Lin Homer. She's someone he has a great deal of time and respect for. Her future at the Home Office is much brighter than you might think,” I was told.

A STORY I wrote about waste disposal the other day, clearly irritated Suffolk waste disposal spokesman Eddy Alcock, who wrote to point out that the county council is responsible for getting rid of what we throw away.

That's true - but the county's attitude to waste really does sum up the absurdity of local government organisation in Suffolk. Waste collection is the responsibility of borough or district councils. It is them that supply us with our bins. It is them that collect our recyclable waste and garden compost.

It is the boroughs and districts which urge us to slim our bin. It is the borough and district councils which are working with supermarkets to try to reduce the number of plastic bags.

The county council sold off its waste tips years ago - they are now run by Viridor or other waste companies.

So what on earth does the county council have to do with waste management?

The clue is in the word 'management.' The county employs expensive managers to tell everyone else, who actually get their hands dirty, how to do it.