SnOasis deserves to succeed

AS THE main part of the SnOasis inquiry nears its end, make your mind up time is looming for inspector John Gray and the government department which will make the final decision on the future of the former quarry at Great Blakenham.

AS THE main part of the SnOasis inquiry nears its end, make your mind up time is looming for inspector John Gray and the government department which will make the final decision on the future of the former quarry at Great Blakenham.

We have always seen the development of a new winter sports leisure village at the site as an exciting proposal for this part of Suffolk.

Nothing we have heard and seen over the last few weeks has changed that view.

There are, of course, concerns from people who live nearby about the impact of such a large development on the area.

However these concerns can be managed - and it is difficult to imagine a better location for such a major development.

It is very near the biggest road in Suffolk and the main rail line - and a new station is part of the application.

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The Highways Agency and the county council are satisfied by the road projections - and the developers have agreed with Felixstowe Port to share the cost of much-needed improvements to the Copdock Mill roundabout.

The planning process has been long and at times rocky, and it is a tribute to developer Godfrey Spanner that he has stuck with the application.

The inquiry itself has cost him £1 million - and there must have been times when he wondered if it was all worth the hassle.

Now the main part of the inquiry is drawing to an end. Mr Gray will be visiting the site and other similar venues over the next few days.

The inquiry will reconvene for a short time in May, and then the final decision will have to be made by the Secretary of State for local government.

By then all the arguments will have been thoroughly tested and we remain confident that the final decision will be right for Suffolk and right for Ipswich.

AS a deeply disappointing season at Portman Road enters its final straight, the board of Ipswich Town is taking a huge gamble by increasing the cost of season tickets for next year.

At a time when there is increasing concern about the cost of watching our national game, attendance figures across the country are falling and Premiership club Bolton Wanderers have been forced to cut their ticket prices.

It wasn't so long ago, during the John Duncan era, that gates were regularly in the 8,000-9,000 mark and while it is difficult to imagine them regularly going down to that level again, the club will be doing very well if it matches this year's average next time around.

For most fans season tickets are very expensive - following your favourite team is no longer the cheap hobby that it was a generation ago.

There was some good news for the club today with the news that much of its debt could be written off - ironically by Norwich Union!

Fans will be hoping that this financial restructuring gives the club more cash to play with when team building for next season.

Meanwhile the directors will be hoping that the news persuades wavering season ticket holders the incentive to renew even if they have not been impressed by what they have seen over the last two years.

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