Row as bus board members dumped

A ROW has broken out over the unceremonious dumping of two members of the board of Ipswich Buses.Ipswich Borough Council's Tory and Liberal Democrat administration took the decision to remove former Labour councillor Martin Cook and Phil Smart, a fellow Labour councillor and former chairman of the board, this week.

A ROW has broken out over the unceremonious dumping of two members of the board of Ipswich Buses.

Ipswich Borough Council's Tory and Liberal Democrat administration took the decision to remove former Labour councillor Martin Cook and Phil Smart, a fellow Labour councillor and former chairman of the board, this week.

The removal of Mr Cook came as no surprise following his recent defeat in the local council elections but Mr Smart's departure caught the opposition party off their guard.

The move, made at a meeting of the council's executive on Tuesday, has left the Labour councillors in uproar and claiming it is an attempt to introduce cuts without encountering political opposition.

That claim has been refuted by the council's leader Liz Harsant, who said the decision to change the make-up of the board represented an attempt to bring in fresh ideas - and she pledged cuts would not be made to services as feared.

Mr Smart, who promised to fight cuts to bus services during his election campaign, said: “This is a particularly cowardly and vindictive move by the Tory/Lib Dem council.

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“They prepared a shoddy report that made no mention of their intentions and then used it to remove two of the company's most active and supportive board members.

“I am not surprised by this decision, coming so soon after they have silenced any dissenting voice on the executive by removing (Labour councillor) David Ellesmere, but I am very disappointed in their standard of behaviour.

“I have served on the board since 1996 and have spent around half that time either as chair or acting chair. I have been associated with Ipswich Buses since I was first elected in 1983 and helped to solve its pension crisis in 1999.”

Mr Ellesmere said: “It's a shocking decision that leaves no independent voice on the board of Ipswich Buses.

“The Tories and Liberal Democrats are showing complete contempt for open decision making.”

Mrs Harsant welcomed the appointment of Lib Dem councillor Richard Atkins to fill one of the vacancies and said discussions were already under way to get a businesswoman into the other vacancy to increase the female contingent on the board.

She said: “The joint administration decided that this was what it wanted, that it was a way to freshen-up Ipswich Buses.

“There will be no cuts in services.”

What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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