Tories in flap over academy proposal

DO I detect a note of unease among Conservatives about the proposal by the borough to take over Ipswich Academy’s current site to redevelop it for housing when the new school is built beside the Gainsborough Sports Centre?

And is it in any way realistic to expect the borough to be given the option to take over the site when the new school is built?

I fear that however sensible the idea sounds, the bureaucratic and political obstacles will be simply too great.

For a start the Department for Education, arguably the most bureaucratically inept section of Whitehall, has to be given first opportunity to decide whether it wants to buy the site.

Given the speed they normally operate, any decision from there could take months!

And I wonder just how keen Ipswich MP Ben Gummer will be to chivvy them along.

I’ve heard from Tories in the town that they’re not to sure whether building a large number of council homes on the site would be such a good idea. After all council tenants vote Labour, Don’t they?

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I even had one Conservative telling me it would change the balance of a “marginal” council seat. Marginal? In my 30 years of covering politics in Ipswich I’ve never known Priory Heath to elect anything other than a Labour councillor.

It was pointed out to me that the Tories almost won it in 2007 – but I remember the Conservatives fearing they might lose Bixley in the mid 1990s!

I just hope that Ben doesn’t let any party political considerations get the better of him and that he will persuade Michael Gove to pull his finger out and make a decision.

The last thing we want is for the site to be left derelict for any time!