Market future like a sitcom plot

WHEN it comes to the town's market, Ipswich Council seems determined to portray itself as the Jim Trott of local authorities.He was the character in the Vicar of Dibley who became famous for the catchphrase: “No, no, no, no, yes!”In the borough council's case, the word yes seems only able to leave their lips at the last minute and with a difficult-looking election on the horizon.

WHEN it comes to the town's market, Ipswich Council seems determined to portray itself as the Jim Trott of local authorities.

He was the character in the Vicar of Dibley who became famous for the catchphrase: “No, no, no, no, yes!”

In the borough council's case, the word yes seems only able to leave their lips at the last minute and with a difficult-looking election on the horizon.

It happened two years ago. We heard every excuse under the sun about why the market couldn't move to the Cornhill.


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Then, with elections just weeks away, the legal officers in Civic Centre discovered that it was possible and the rest is history.

Now the scenario has been repeating itself.

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For months the council has said it cannot offer the existing traders' co-operative a contract to run the market because it has to go out to tender.

Then, with more elections in the offing, they've finally discovered that it will be possible to offer the traders an exclusive deal.

Peace has broken out, and now the traders seem certain to get the long-term deal they had wanted in the first place.

Now you don't have to be the most cynical person in the world to notice the link between these u-turns and the local elections.

But do the councillors really think we're too stupid to have worked this out? I'm just wondering what will happen next time there's a crucial poll - assuming they've still got one hand on the levers of power.

It was, of course, Ian Fleming's arch villain Auric Goldfinger who came up with the definition of such events: “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it's enemy action!”

LABOUR launched its local election campaign this week - but the message the party was trying to put across was totally puzzling.

We hear constantly from politicians on all sides that local government is important.

They say the issues they deal with are vital for the community. Elections to local authorities should be seen as important in their own right, not just beauty contests for the parties nationally.

Yet what does Labour do when it launches its campaign nationally?

It talks about job creation, health and education - none of which are the responsibility of most of the local authorities up for election this year.

The Liberal Democrats, the great fighters for local issues, have launched their campaign banging on about the war in Iraq.

What on earth do they expect local councils to do about that? Are they expecting George W to cave in at the sight of an army of town hall Lib Dems?

The Tories aren't much better.

Michael Howard has put a great deal of emphasis at his launch on cutting Whitehall bureaucracy.

What does he expect new councillors elected to Civic Centre in Ipswich to do about that?

Frankly until political parties at their centre are prepared to concentrate on local issues in local elections, they can hardly blame the voters if they don't understand the importance of voting in them!

THIS last week we've all been told by the government to take more exercise - not necessarily go down the gym but do more walking or even housework.

What's Suffolk County Council's contribution to this? It provides a free bus for its staff so they don't have to walk the 400 metres from Endeavour House to the town centre.

Isn't it good to know that they're looking after the health of their couch potatoes?

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