Resort's future secrecy concerns

CONCERN has been voiced over the cloak of secrecy surrounding a new group set up to raise millions of pounds for projects to regenerate Felixstowe.Deputy mayor Malcolm Minns also expressed worries over who the group members represented after it emerged they had been invited to join rather than appointed from councils or organisations.

By Richard Cornwell

CONCERN has been voiced over the cloak of secrecy surrounding a new group set up to raise millions of pounds for projects to regenerate Felixstowe.

Deputy mayor Malcolm Minns also expressed worries over who the group members represented after it emerged they had been invited to join rather than appointed from councils or organisations.

He described the Felixstowe Futures group - set up to access funding for a projects and attractions - as “the most unorthodox” he had seen in his time in local government.

Mr Minns said: “I am both a district councillor and a town councillor and I have had no opportunity whatsoever to consider the formation of this group or to examine its terms of reference.

“Who decides who sits on this group - some all-seeing superior being? I have never seen any minutes.”

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He said it concerned him greatly when voters asked him about the group and he had to admit he knew nothing about it.

Mr Minns added: “I think it is rude and unacceptable the majority of us know nothing about this group who are planning the future of our town, what ground they are covering and decisions they are making.

“I want to hope this group is potentially a big step forward for Felixstowe and will be a good thing, but there is a cloak of secrecy which goes against the modern urge to share knowledge with the public and that is unacceptable.”

Councillor Andy Smith, a member of Felixstowe Futures, said it had been set up with the input of EEDA, Haven Gateway and English Partnerships to take advantage of the changing political world which had made it extremely difficult, and impossible in many cases, for councils to access millions of pounds of funding available from Europe and UK quasi-government groups.

“Most of these funding streams are explicitly designed to be via other routes other than local councils,” he said.

“This group could be good news on a massive basis for this town.

“We have sat by for so long and watching funding streams going to all places north of here and never to a place like us - but now we are on the agenda in a big way.”

Various people were invited to participate, but only a handful were councillors and many from independent bodies.

Town clerk Susan Robinson is an officer member of the group but said she was not in any way representing the town council.

Do you think the Felixstowe Futures group is too secret? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

FACTFILE: Members of the Felixstowe Futures Group

Stephen Bracewell - chairman (Haven Gateway Partnership)

Ray Herring (Suffolk Coastal council leader)

John Perry (Suffolk Coastal cabinet member)

Doreen Savage (Suffolk Coastal cabinet member)

Andy Smith (Suffolk Coastal cabinet member)

Eddy Alcock (Suffolk County Council)

John Goodwin (Felixstowe and Trimley county councilllor)

Graham Newman (Felixstowe county councillor)

Ann Rodwell (Felixstowe Mayor)

John Barker (Trimley St. Martin Parish Council)

Richard Kerry (Trimley St. Martin Parish Council)

Matthew Jones (East of England Development Agency)

Mike Bateson (Haven Gateway)

Shaun Ruddock (Felixstowe Chamber of Trade)

Paul Davey (Port of Felixstowe)