Lib Dems facing crunch in Ipswich

CRUNCH time is nearing for Ipswich Buses - and the town's Liberal Democrats have to decide where their priorities really lie.

CRUNCH time is nearing for Ipswich Buses - and the town's Liberal Democrats have to decide where their priorities really lie.

Do they continue to shore up their Conservative allies - an anathema to many of their natural supporters - or is their party's commitment to green policies more important to them?

It's make your mind up time for Ipswich LibDems!

The borough's budget for 2007/8 assumes the council will take dividends from the bus company that have been collected over recent years and will demand a £55,000 rent from the company, rising to £500,000 when it moves into new premises in two years' time.

Councillors have been warned by the company that these measures will force it to make £400,000 cuts - which in turn will force it to cut services next year, including withdrawal of the numbers 19,14,and 22 and freeze investment in new buses.

It's no good for one senior LibDem, who is not on the borough council, to go around saying: “We cannot support these cuts,” while those with seats in the council chamber hum and har and try to say that things won't really be that bad and the media and opposition should not go around worrying passengers.

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When the Liberal Democrats went into coalition with the Tories in Ipswich there were many puzzled looks - nationally their policies could not be more different. How could they work together on the ground?

Was this not just a coalition formed out of necessity by two groups desperate for a sniff of power whose only real common ground was that they disliked Labour more than each other?

Such a coalition can only survive as long there are no real issues to drive it apart. And now the LibDems have a difficult decision to make. Do they stay or do they go?

The town's voters will be waiting with interest to see which way they jump.

EVERYONE will be mightily relieved today to hear that the vet who became ill after helping with the turkey cull in Suffolk does not have bird flu.

But this relief must not stop the difficult questions that have to be asked, most seriously: why did it take more than 72 hours from the death of the first birds last Tuesday to the public getting its first hint that something was wrong on Friday evening.

Bernard Matthews and Defra still have some difficult questions to answer. With every day that passes hopes rise that the disease will not have spread any further but it is no good for them to just preen themselves.

Bird flu had three days to escape from the factory before anyone outside a small group of insiders suspected it was around - and that is not good enough.

SUFFOLK today was on full-scale snow alert with forecasters warning we could have several inches of the white stuff surrounding us by this time tomorrow.

If it does come it will be a shock to the system - the fact is that we see snow so rarely in this part of the world that when it comes we are not used to driving on it and find it difficult to cope with.

If the snow does come everyone will have to take extra care and ensure that we do our best to stay safe in the snow.