Sandy Martin tackles Ipswich Conservatives on housing
PUBLISHED: 14:28 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:28 18 October 2019
A new row has blown up between Ipswich's Labour MP Sandy Martin and the town's opposition Conservative group on the borough council over homelessness and council housing.
Mr Martin raised housing - and the lack of any proposed government bills on the issue - during this week's debate on the Queen's Speech in the House of Commons.
During his speech, he said the Conservatives on Ipswich council had encouraged people to object to proposals to convert a former sheltered care home on Sidegate Lane into a centre providing accommodation for homeless families and individuals.
Mr Martin said: "I am immensely proud that Ipswich Borough Council has built its own temporary accommodation for more than 80 households. Two main units built since Labour took control of the council in 2011 - high-quality, safe flats with staff on site 24 hours a day 365 days a year giving residents help to get back on their feet and find permanent housing.
"But I find it particularly shocking that Conservative councillors in Ipswich tried to stir up local opposition against the more recent of these units being built.
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"Campaigning against these units being built is, alas, not the only action that Conservatives have taken against Ipswich council's attempts to deal with our housing crisis."
He pointed out that they had supported legal action against new council homes being built in Ravenswood - and ensured that some new rental homes on the former Tooks site in Whitton would have to charge market, rather than affordable, rents.
Ipswich council opposition leader Ian Fisher responded: "The Ravenswood development was challenged by local residents as well as opposition councillors as the plans were in direct conflict with IBC's own planning application.
"This is the reason it was stopped by the Secretary of State. This decison was made a number of years ago yet still Labour politicians use it as a reason for their abject failure to deliver social housing for the people of Ipswich."
He added: "The new homeless unit in Ipswich was opposed by the ward councillor at the time at the request of local residents who wanted to ensure their voice was heard.
"It was not a group decision and an admirable one taken by a councillor who listened to his constituents. I know this may come as a shock to Sandy Martin who seems to ignore the wishes of his residents but that really is what we are here to do, represent them."