Town needs bold decisions

IT would be a tragedy to see Piper's Vale destroyed by a new road - and I simply don't believe that the Highways Agency, when push came to shove, would be prepared to allow a new junction on to the A14 between the Orwell Bridge and the Nacton turn.

IT would be a tragedy to see Piper's Vale destroyed by a new road - and I simply don't believe that the Highways Agency, when push came to shove, would be prepared to allow a new junction on to the A14 between the Orwell Bridge and the Nacton turn.

But this week's minor fire at the Cranfields site makes it even clearer that something has to be done to sort out Ipswich's traffic problems once and for all.

The ability of politicians and council officials to stick their heads in the sand on this issue seems limitless.

The roads around the Waterfront are the main - in fact they are the only - block to integrating this exciting new part of Ipswich with the town centre.

But what a block they are! How many people do you know who come shopping to the town centre and then go for a stroll along the Waterfront - even though it's only a few metres away?

There are schemes to create a single road alongside a “green route” for buses, bikes, and walkers.

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Frankly this week's problems with a road closure for only a few hours shows those schemes to create a single road are so far divorced from reality that they're up there dancing with the fairies.

The only way that traffic can be taken out of College Street, Key Street and Salthouse Street is by putting it somewhere else - and not in Star Lane.

That means somewhere new roads have to be built - whether it is a new double crossing of the lock at the end of the Wet Dock, a new road going through the bottom of Ravenswood on to the Nacton turn to the A14, or some other more imaginative scheme.

Whatever the solution, something must be done.

Ipswich is not gridlocked, anyone who says it is must just have a political agenda or be totally out of touch with the situation in similar sized cities.

But if the planners and councillors keep on giving more planning permission for more homes with no further thought for new roads then our town will be heading that way.

And frankly that would be a criminal waste of opportunity.

Here we go again!

Prepare yourself for another bout ofdestructive council-bashing as both the county and districts try to scoop up extra powers for themselves in the battle to control our lives.

Anyone who remembers the bloody battle for power in the early 1990s will know exactly what I mean.

At that time former environment minister John Gummer decided a single layer of councils should be introduced right across the country.

His department asked for comments from people across the country - and after strong, some would say vitriolic, campaigns by the county and the districts he decided to do nothing at all in Suffolk.

Now the Labour government is having another attempt - and all the old bile is flooding back.

When the government first set the reorganisation ball rolling, it said it did not expect to open up a national debate like that in the early 1990s - and didn't want to see all the campaigning that we had then.

Leading figures in Civic Centre and Endeavour House nodded sagely and said this would all be sorted out without rancour. How quickly those promises have been forgotten.

I haven't been at every conversation local government minister David Miliband has had with councils from Suffolk - but it is clear they aren't getting the same message.

And this means that they are starting to dig their heels in and take potshots at each other.

Apparently Mr Miliband told county councils that there is no way that the government would consider creating single-tier local authorities with a population of less than 250,000 - which would rule out Ipswich as a single-tier council based on its current population.

County councillors have certainly been given the impression that any new authority would probably be based on their boundary in Suffolk - although they might lose Waveney to form a new council with Great Yarmouth.

Meanwhile in Ipswich borough councillors and senior officers dismiss suggestions that there is any lower-population limit.

Mr Miliband told them that the government was determined to keep current council boundaries and there would be no lower population limit.

Either he's been giving extremely vague answers that anyone can interpret in a way that backs up their own case.

Or he's been saying different things to different people.

Or the people have he's been taking to haven't been listening and are just saying what they wanted him to say to them.

Whatever the answer, it's all helping to stoke up the row - and we now seem to be on a real collision course between Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council. It may well be a row that other districts get caught up in.

And the interesting thing about this row is that it doesn't divide people along party lines - it splits them down which authority they belong to.

Which must make life very interesting for all the “twin trackers” who sit on both the borough and county councils.