Kesgrave should pay up

KESGRAVE'S John Klaschka hit the nail on the head during a debate on whether it wanted to become part of “Greater Ipswich” and his honesty should be applauded.

KESGRAVE'S John Klaschka hit the nail on the head during a debate on whether it wanted to become part of “Greater Ipswich” and his honesty should be applauded.

The Suffolk county councillor warned members of Kesgrave Town Council that joining the borough would see substantial council tax rises.

At present ten per cent of council tax bills go to the district council, he warned. If it was part of Ipswich, 20pc would go to the borough.

And that is the basic root of the objection felt by most Kesgrave residents to becoming part of Ipswich.

It isn't that Kesgrave is such a historic community worth protecting.

Kesgrave is a very nice, upmarket, housing estate with all the facilities that a nice, upmarket, housing estate needs.

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It has fine schools. It has a good shopping centre (I use Tesco there regularly on my trips between Ipswich and Woodbridge). It has an attractive pub, community centre, and health facilities.

But it is not a town in the normal sense of the word. It did not start life as a self-sufficient community. It has always been a suburb of Ipswich.

Given that most people in Kesgrave look to Ipswich for their services is it not reasonable to expect them to pay their bit?

Those of us who live in Ipswich pay council tax which helps keep the Regent Theatre open, Crown Pools open, maintain Christchurch Park, keep the mansion and the museum open.

The good people of Kesgrave get to use all these facilities for free - or with a subsidy paid by the citizens of the town.

Nobody can persuade me that no one from Kesgrave has ever been to the Regent, visited the parks in the town, or gone swimming at Crown Pools!

I live in Ipswich and I'd love to see my council tax come down - but I recognise that the services we get in the town have to be paid for.

And I hope I'm not selfish enough to think they should all be paid for by the people living down the road.

There's one further point that should be considered. If Kesgrave was part of Ipswich, it wouldn't need its own “town council” levying extra council tax bills.

Its interests would be looked after by a neighbourhood panel of the borough which does not cost any extra to administer.

So the savings might not be as great as some of the small-minded anti-Ipswich brigade seem to think!

SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer has always been a bit of a renaissance man with many strings to his bow.

He's been a cabinet minister, a close ally of three Conservative leaders - Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher, and John Major.

He's a well-know environmental campaigner, and a strong Christian who converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism over the ordination of women.

Now, however, I've discovered he has another talent - as a television scriptwriter.

Anyone who has heard him speak or been engaged in conversation with the senior Tory knows that he has a very easy style. When he talks it's always worth listening.

And this talent helped contribute to his role in helping to write an episode of one of the finest situation comedies of all time.

Back in 1986 an episode of “Yes Prime Minister” featured the search for a new Bishop of Bury St Edmunds. It was broadcast just as the government of the day was looking to appoint a new Bishop of St Edmundsbury!

Now I've discovered that the plot of the episode, and much of the dialogue, was created by none other than Mr Gummer - who was a government minister at the time.

He told me: “I know Jonathan Lynn (who co-wrote the show with Anthony Jay) and because he doesn't know how the church works as well as I do (Mr Lynn is Jewish), I came up with the plot for that episode.

“They changed the end a bit from how I had seen it, but essentially it was my plot.”

In the episode, the government is faced with having to appoint a new bishop and is stuck between appointing someone who doesn't believe in God to appointing someone who is so pious that he would be totally unworldly.

Eventually Sir Humphrey manoeuvres a compromise candidate into position - in a move aimed at ensuring he will have a comfortable retirement when he retires from the civil service.

Mr Gummer's revelation confirmed to me what I had long suspected - that despite ministers and civil servants insisting at the time that Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister was total fiction, it was actually a textbook lesson in how Whitehall works.

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