Mandarins threaten to foil Ipswich's bid

IN a bitter riposte to Ipswich's increasingly successful attempt to control its own affairs, county mandarins are today warning they will scupper the bid.

IN a bitter riposte to Ipswich's increasingly successful attempt to control its own affairs, county mandarins are today warning they will scupper the bid.

The threat ignited a neighbourhood row between leaders and civil servants at their respective seats of power at Endeavour House and Grafton House in the town's Russell Road.

Less than 24 hours after the borough's application for unitary status was shortlisted by Whitehall, county council chief executive Mike More pledged to do all he could to derail the bid, according to a leaked e-mail obtained by The Evening Star.

Mr More has told council officers to start preparing reports to rubbish Ipswich's case. He is determined the authority will oppose the move at the consultation stage even though every county councillor for Ipswich is in favour of the borough's move.

On hearing of his plans, furious Ipswich Borough Council leader Liz Harsant responded: “Frankly I think this is disgraceful. We have tried very hard not to make this personal or to knock the county.

“But for the chief executive of the county to put out this message basically saying he is getting his people to knock down our case is awful. I am very disappointed in the county.

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“It is significant that every county councillor for Ipswich wants us to get unitary status. It is really disappointing that no one there seems interested in understanding the town's point of view.”

Mr More sent out the e-mail to all council employees stating the county would try to persuade ministers to reject the borough bid at the final hurdle.

Mr More's message said: “The process to date has excluded the county council from discussions about Ipswich's bid. We now have an opportunity to put the county council's perspective in direct discussion with government and we will do so strongly.

“The key tests are simply stated: is a unitary Ipswich best for services? No.

“Is a unitary Ipswich affordable? No.

“Is a unitary Ipswich best for a strong Suffolk? No.

“Is a unitary Ipswich best for a strong Ipswich? No.

“These are the points which we now have an opportunity to put directly to government and which we will get strongly over locally to stakeholders.

“Colleagues in policy and finance have already been working on critiques of the Ipswich case.”

Suffolk county council spokesman Francis Thomas said the government wanted other authorities to mount a full critique of applications.

“In building a critique of the borough's case we are merely doing what the government wants us to do.

“The fact is that our figures show that the unitary bid would be costly and not in the interests of the people of Ipswich or Suffolk.”

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