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Politicians shy away from market issue

PUBLISHED: 12:42 08 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 March 2010

ONE issue above all others has dominated the political scene in Ipswich over the last 10 days - the future of the town's market.

But the town's politicians - with one notable exception - seem to be scared of the issue and have gone silent on it.

ONE issue above all others has dominated the political scene in Ipswich over the last 10 days – the future of the town's market.

But the town's politicians – with one notable exception – seem to be scared of the issue and have gone silent on it.

With vital elections coming up in May – for the first time in a generation Ipswich residents are going to have the chance to boot the entire council out if they feel like it – you'd have thought politicians would have seized on this as an issue.

It's clearly something the voters feel strongly about – look at our letters or the number of people who have taken part in our surveys!

But have the Tories jumped on this as an issue to make political capital? Not a bit.

They're still writing us letters whingeing about the amount of tax Mr Blair is taking from us (and will continue to take from us whatever the result in May) when they could really start hammering home an issue where there is genuine public concern.

Labour politicians, too, have been very quiet about their support of the market although I am assured that several of them use it to buy their fruit and veg.

Why all this coyness? Politicians haven't always been reticent about leaping on board a passing bandwagon.

The one group which has had something to say on this issue is the Christian People's Alliance which surprised many with its strong show in the Ipswich by-election.

With committed supporters already in the town, if Dave Cooper keeps up raising the issue of the market then it could have an interesting impact in May's elections.

While on the subject, I took my family to Bury on Saturday and spent some time wandering around the market – which dominates the town centre there.

As I was admiring the fresh cheese on offer, and turned around to see Ipswich councillor Trevor Payne. I don't know which of us looked most surprised to see the other!

"It is a bit different to our market," conceded the Labour member for Whitehouse Ward.

"I suppose that's because it's always been here and it's got that stability." Mr Payne said he would like to see the Ipswich market moved to Lloyds Avenue until the Mint Quarter was built.

For the sake of the market , let's hope my source was right when I was told the other week that councillors were getting nervous about it becoming an electoral issue and knew they had to do something to save it.

WE'VE now reached that time of the year when councils around the country are setting the amount they take from householders.

And as always at this time of the year, we're hearing from some local politicians in the rural parts of the county about how much more efficient and cheaper than Ipswich they are.

To be honest, I wouldn't mind if it wasn't for the fact that those of us who pay council tax bills in Ipswich are also paying to maintain facilities they enjoy.

Those who live in the rural districts pay nothing towards keeping the streets of the town they use clean.

They pay no subsidy to allow them to watch the shows at the Regent or Ipswich Film Theatre.

And they pay nothing to use Christchurch Park, the Orwell Country Park or any of the other facilities in town.

I know they have to pay to park here – but then so do those of us who live in the town.

It's all very well paying low council taxes – but I know who would be the first to whinge if we didn't have the facilities in Ipswich.

AFTER all the row about councillors voting themselves higher allowances, I see that now the trade union Unison is complaining that some of its members earn less than the "average" councillor allowance of £12,500.

That figure sounded very high to me – in Ipswich only one borough councillor earns anything like that, council leader Peter Gardiner.

A few people who are members of both the borough and county council get more than that – but presumably they do much more work as members of two authorities.

I really don't have a problem with councillors getting reasonable, though not excessive allowances – if they do the job properly it can be quite demanding.

I'd much rather they were paid well and we get able councillors.

Too many councils have, for too long been run by retired people, businessmen who don't need extra money and can take the time off, and busybodies who haven't anything else to fill their life.

I'd much rather have a mix of people from all walks of life on local authorities – even if some do need a cash incentive.

After all, we all know what you get if you pay peanuts!

IPSWICH has failed in its bid to take part in an experimental scheme to have universal postal voting in May's local council elections.

The bid failed because of opposition from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – and the Home Office wanted to see all-party agreement.

I know they had their reasons for objecting to this plan, but surely everyone can see that something needs to be done to attract more people to cast their vote.

Universal postal voting has worked in other areas of the country – but now we won't know if it would work here.

Seeing the general lack of political argument about key issues in this town at present, I can't escape from the feeling that the real victor in the struggle over what form of voting we use in May will be apathy.

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