Snoasis looks good for Suffolk

AFTER working on development stories for many years, it's very easy to become slightly jaded and highly sceptical when wonderful new ideas are unveiled.

AFTER working on development stories for many years, it's very easy to become slightly jaded and highly sceptical when wonderful new ideas are unveiled.

Remember Crowngates? That was the wonderful new shopping centre that was going to give us a new Debenhams and Marks & Spencer.

Remember the Gipeswic Centre? That was going to be the new museum on the Waterfront telling the history of the English.

Remember all the plans for Bentwaters? An international airport for Suffolk, a Yogic flying university, and a holiday village.

And I daren't even mention the Mint Quarter!

They're all ambitious pipedreams that came to nothing either because of planning problems or lack of money.

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I must admit that when I first heard of plans to build a new winter sports centre in Great Blakenham, my instant reaction was that this was another impossible pipedream.

It just seemed too good – and too improbable – to be true. It's difficult to imagine anywhere less like the Alps than Great Blakenham!

What a boost for the area Snoasis would be! A £300 million development, more than 1,000 new jobs, new homes for Blakenham, and a new railway station.

Given the moonscape that exists in the quarry at the moment, it's difficult to imagine this as a blot on the landscape.

It really does sound like the perfect idea.

But now the promoters have come up with their masterplan and are starting on some heavy-duty lobbying with Mid Suffolk Council I'm just beginning to think it might happen.

The developers say the finance is in place. And surely the powers that be at Mid Suffolk will bite their hand off!

I know there's some scepticism in the local community about the proposal – it's been described as "Pie in the Sky" by some.

But I have a sneaking feeling this one might just run – and I really hope it does turn into a Buttermarket rather than a Crowngates!

HOWEVER old and wise we are, we all occasionally do something we regret.

But usually – if that action involves other people – there's someone there to say: "Hang on a minute, is this really a good idea?"

Where was that person when the ruling Labour group on Suffolk County Council decided to have a shindig to celebrate 10 Glorious Years in charge at County Hall?

Is there no one in the Labour leadership with the political nous to have realised in advance how badly this would play with the hard-pressed electorate?

It was totally ill-judged for three reasons:

1) It put the noses of their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats well out of joint – Labour wouldn't have been able to do anything at County Hall without their support.

2) Coming just as council tax bills were hitting the doormat, the party was always going to be controversial – even if they did pay for the event themselves they looked as if they were dancing on the graves of the county's householders.

3) You can't get much further from the killing fields of Iraq than Suffolk County Hall, but any political celebrations look inappropriate at this time.

You can understand Labour leaders wanting to celebrate 10 years in power, but that celebration should have been in private without public razzamatazz.

The electorate have long memories – they may well remember this crass stupidity in two years' time.