Unitary row turns into sandwich wars

RELATIONS between the two opposing sides of Suffolk's unitary debate have taken a buttering after things came to a head with a bizarre row over sandwiches.

RELATIONS between the two opposing sides of Suffolk's unitary debate have taken a buttering after things came to a head with a bizarre row over sandwiches.

In a scene reminiscent of classic Dickens tale Oliver Twist, supporters of a North Haven council were sent away with their tails between their legs when they went to tuck in to a spread laid on by county chiefs.

Ill-feeling between the opposing sides of the debate took a turn for the worse when the two opposing sides met with boundary chiefs earlier this month at the town's Ip City centre to make final tweaks to their cases.

A source within Ipswich Borough Council revealed how delegates were astonished and bemused when it came to lunch time and they were told to keep their hands off a buffet spread prepared by caterers for Suffolk County Council.

Despite bidding to provide essential services for the entire county, the One Suffolk team proved less than willing to provide sustenance for their North Haven rivals.

The snub followed an earlier apparent slight when they were refused entry to the One Suffolk meeting with the boundary committee, a session understood to be open to all sides of the debate.

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Secrecy of the discussions was assured when the windows were hastily covered-up with paper after the North Haven delegates were asked to leave.

The source said: “It was always going to be tense but North Haven leaders were surprised to be refused firstly admittance to the One Suffolk meeting and then to find paper stuck on the window.

“We are all for openness and transparency so were amazed to find an almost secret meeting going on.

“Our appetite was not enhanced when the caterers turned up with the sandwiches for a buffet lunch and the North Haven party were told in no uncertain terms they would have to get their own food from the pub nearby.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council was unable to say why the North Haven board members were refused lunch but revealed the meetings were held in separate rooms to allow “open and frank discussions”.

He said: “The first meeting, which ran from 11am until 2pm and which included a light lunch, was for delegates supporting the single authority option.

“The second meeting was for district councils to represent their views about a single Suffolk, beginning at 1pm.

“As these timings overlapped they were kept separate to avoid interrupting either meeting.”

n. What do you think of the food row? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Final submissions to the boundary committee have to be made by Friday.

Proposals to split the county into two authorities - one covering Ipswich, Felixstowe and the Shotley peninsula as well as a separate rural Suffolk council - have received widespread support.

However that camp is at loggerheads with Suffolk County Council which is supporting a bid for a single unitary.

The Boundary Committee will submit its final report on the future shape of Suffolk to the Electoral Commission by the end of December which will pass its recommendation on to the Government.

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