Suffolk leads battle against ghost towns

SUFFOLK is showing the way in fighting the trends of “ghost town Britain” and helping to form vibrant communities for the future.Lord Marlesford told the House of Lords real action was needed to help rural communities - and government needed to play a role to stop and reverse the problems.

SUFFOLK is showing the way in fighting the trends of “ghost town Britain” and helping to form vibrant communities for the future.

Lord Marlesford told the House of Lords real action was needed to help rural communities - and government needed to play a role to stop and reverse the problems.

Shops, post offices, employments opportunities, leisure and other community services have been lost and people felt ignored.

Speaking at the debate on the Sustainable Communities Bill, Lord Marlesford, president of the Suffolk Preservation Society, said his home county was already showing how to resist the threat of damage to local services.

He told how a campaign led by Lady Cranbrook stopped Tesco from opening another superstore in countryside near Saxmundham only 12 miles from the Tesco superstore which already existed at Martlesham.

“Lady Cranbrook interviewed 81 local shops, most of which would have closed if the supermarket had been built,” he said.

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“The Suffolk Coastal District Council looked at the retailing need and refused Tesco planning permission. The company appealed and then withdrew in the middle of the appeal.

“Local authorities and local communities can and should play an important role in promoting the sustainability of local communities but the problem is so serious that government cannot leave it to individuals, communities or even local authorities.

“There are things that only government can do, as well as things they should do, as well as ways in which government can help to enable the actions of councils and communities.”

Welcoming the bill, Baroness Scott of Needham Market said: “The fact that there are sometimes successful campaigns against the closure or the opening of a supermarket should not cloud the fact that one of the fundamental problems facing society is a sense of powerlessness.

“People feel that decisions about their lives are taken in a way that they do not understand or have no opportunity to influence.”

Do you think more should be done to help rural communities? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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