Politicians welcome boost to Ipswich

POLITICIANS from across the spectrum in Ipswich today welcomed the news that the town should gain unitary status in two years time.The town's Labour MP, Chris Mole, was the first to hear the good news in a short meeting with local government minister Phil Woolas.

POLITICIANS from across the spectrum in Ipswich today welcomed the news that the town should gain unitary status in two years time.

The town's Labour MP, Chris Mole, was the first to hear the good news in a short meeting with local government minister Phil Woolas. He was Mr Woolas' parliamentary aide before resigning last year after calling on prime minister Tony Blair to name his departure date.

Mr Mole said today: “This is very good news for Ipswich. The borough put forward a very strong case which was backed by people from across the political spectrum.

“This is not the end of the battle - but it is a very significant development and the borough can look forward optimistically to the next stage in July.”

The borough's Conservative leader, Liz Harsant, was also delighted. She said: "This is excellent news and I am so pleased for the people of Ipswich.

“All we want is a chance to move power closer to the people and to deliver even better and more cost-effective services by cutting waste and duplication.

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“We have a real opportunity now to make improvements in many areas, such as schools, community involvement and democratic engagement, and to put Ipswich first.

“A unitary Ipswich council is the only system that will help us do that. It is brilliant to be on the list but this is only a step for us.

“Now we will continue our major consultation exercise with local people, businesses and other stakeholders. I want to thank our stakeholders, residents and staff for their support."

Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Atkins said: “I am absolutely delighted. This is something we have been wanting for years.

“We have shown that by combining services from the borough and county that £14 million can be saved and there can be further savings of £4 million a year.

“The government cannot ignore the logic of the move.”

Opposition Labour leader David Ellesmere said: “It is fantastic. Ipswich deserves to run its own affairs and this is the clearest indication it is going to win the argument.”

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