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Toytown mayors take office

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

WHEN I was very young, one of my favourite television shows was Trumpton – and at some stage the mayor always seemed to do something that looked more important than it was.

WHEN I was very young, one of my favourite television shows was Trumpton – and at some stage the mayor always seemed to do something that looked more important than it was.

I couldn't help but think of Trumpton when I heard that Felixstowe Town Council had chosen Doreen Savage as mayor . . . yet again!

Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against Doreen. She's one of the best councillors – from any party – that you'll find. If anyone deserves to be described as "Mrs Felixstowe," it's her.

But this will be the third time she's worn the chain – following on from second-time mayor Malcolm Minns.

My views on parish and town councils have never been a secret – I don't see the point of them – and I'm afraid I see the role of town mayor as doubly pointless.

The role seems even more obscure when there are so few people wanting to take it on that they have to chose the same person time after time.

Doreen seems to have been wearing a chain for ages – although she last wore the mayoral chain in Felixstowe eight years ago, she's also spent a year as Suffolk Coastal chairman and a year as it's vice-chairman.

She's not the only member of the Felixstowe "double chain gang." This year's deputy mayor – due to be next year's mayor – is Don Smith who spent two years as Suffolk County Council chairman.

But what on earth is the point of the position of mayor and the council? All the decisions which really matter in Felixstowe are taken in Woodbridge by Suffolk Coastal or in Ipswich by Suffolk County Council.

Felixstowe Town Council really doesn't serve any purpose – except to allow one of its citizens to spend a year wearing an impressive chain!

Town councils – be they in Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Hadleigh or wherever really are little more than Trumpton come to life.

THERE is a word that I'm heartily sick of.

It first appeared in the bowells of Whitehall on May 2 1997, the day after Labour was swept to power.

At the time it didn't bother me. At the time it was just a nice little expression that seemed to sum up the new mood in government.

But now if I ever hear or read the word stakeholder again I think I'll scream!

The word is springing up everywhere like a nasty rash – and just like a rash if you try to do something about it, it just multiplies and you find more stakeholders wherever you look.

Apparently we're all now stakeholders in this and stakeholders in that.

If you buy a loaf of bread in Sainsbury's you're a stakeholder in the supermarket giant.

If you use Christchurch park you're a stakeholder in Ipswich Council – even if you live in some remote part of the country!

What started as a government buzzword has got into every company report and every council document.

It's still meaningless – and deserves to be exterminated from the dictionary.

EVENING Star columnists criticise the place at their peril, but I have to say I find the "Kesgrave syndrome" deeply depressing.

It's the syndrome which makes residents of the outskirts of Ipswich deny that they live within the urban area and makes them desperately protest that they are actually in a separate community.

Only this week Kesgrave Town Council – I make no comment on that – got its knickers in a twist because it was refered to as Ipswich on the television.

And while Kesgrave is the most clear example of this syndrome, it also afflicts other areas like Rushmere, Warren Heath, and Pinewood.

These aren't separate communities with their own identities. They're Ipswich housing estates.

Some – like Kesgrave – have their own schools and shops. A bit like Chantry, Stoke Park and Whitton.

The only thing that makes them different is that they were built outside the town boundary so residents don't pay for many of the services in Ipswich that they use.

What drives this desire for a separate identity? Is it really a cultural wish to be their own small community cut off from Ipswich – or do they just want to enjoy all the trappings of town life without paying for them?


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