New headquarters delights council chiefs

WHY was there so much rejoicing at County Hall in Ipswich when the purchase of the TXU building was confirmed?Because chief executive Mike More and his senior team saw it as the only way to complete the shake-up of the council started by his predecessor Lin Homer.

WHY was there so much rejoicing at County Hall in Ipswich when the purchase of the TXU building was confirmed?

Because chief executive Mike More and his senior team saw it as the only way to complete the shake-up of the council started by his predecessor Lin Homer.

Over the last few years the council's political structure has been completely restructured – the old committees were swept away and replaced by an executive committee and advisory panels.

They don't relate directly to the council's departments – aiming to represent council users instead.

There isn't an education panel – there's a panel for young people including education and social services. But the people providing the services are very separate – in different buildings altogether.

"The thing is, the county council is full of people running their own empires in their own buildings," one council insider told me.

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"A lot of these don't really see the county council as a whole, they see themselves working for education, environment and transport, or whatever.

"Each have their own bosses and get on with doing there own thing – Mike More himself was stuck in the outbuildings at the other end of Rope Walk from the main St Helen Court.

"He saw that for all the talk of modernisation, Lin Homer had been able to do nothing about this county culture. That's why there's been no real change.

"Once everyone is in the same building, there won't be this empire building – and you'll probably see the end of the traditional departments within a few months."

If my informant is right, then the culture of the council is going to change completely. I'll believe it when I see it!

IS there really a vendetta being waged against Lord Archer as he serves his sentence at Hollesley Bay?

I'm beginning to think there might be – and it might stretch right to the top of the Home Office.

In his prison diary, Archer does scream "Are You Listening, David Blunkett?" on several occasions - it seems now that the Home Secretary was listening, but not to the message about prison reform that the jailed peer was trying to make.

It now seems that the decision to move Archer from North Sea Camp in Lincolnshire to the austere Lincoln Prison was taken by the Home Secretary himself.

Now has he stepped in again to prevent Archer working at the Genesis Project?

That really did look like a win-win situation – Archer would be working in a closed environment with people who have disabilities while the Project itself could get some good publicity after he's released.

The authorities at Hollesley were happy for the arrangement – but someone at the Prison Service HQ, or at the Home Office, decided to prevent the move.

Can I detect Mr Blunkett's hand in this? And if that is the case, what are the chances of Archer getting early parole if the Home Secretary has the last word?

Hasn't this all become a little bit personal?

I WAS very disappointed to see that the overall response to our web poll on Ipswich Town's new stands was so negative.

This has led me to conclude that either:

a) Many people want to live in a timewarp where Ipswich is a quaint little town serving the farms of rural Suffolk.

b) The Star's webpoll was hacked by little yellow and green birds whose natural habitat is north of the Suffolk border!

I know which I think to be most likely!

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