Worrying times for council staff

NEWS that a report produced for the county council recommends that all its services should be privatised will be very worrying for all the staff at the largest employer in Suffolk.

NEWS that a report produced for the county council recommends that all its services should be privatised will be very worrying for all the staff at the largest employer in Suffolk.

It is absolutely right that in these times of belt-tightening, the county council should look at ways of making itself more efficient.

What seems odd is that this report should be floating around - although not distributed widely - at a time when the whole questions of unitary government is under discussion.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the report assumes Ipswich will be allowed to go it alone and it is a template for what is left of the county council to find an identity.

It is also worrying that this plan could be introduced by stealth with no one but a small clique of senior councillors having a say in the matter.

The report is due to be discussed by county councillors later this week - although few of them have seen the full 83-page document - and after that there are no plans to look at the issue again in full council.

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That cannot be right. This is a major change to the way the council operates - and it should only be introduced after full consultation at every stage.

We are not talking about minor changes to working practices - we are talking here about major upheavals in the lives of thousands of people.

It affects their pensions, their conditions of service - and it could affect the standard of service received by every one of us who lives in the county.

It is only right that we should all know exactly where our councillors stand on the proposal.

IT is only fair that Suffolk's National Health Service workers will be charged for parking their cars at work.

Having done the same to doctors and nurses at Ipswich Hospital it is right others must now pay their dues, especially those on good salaries at the new Primary Care Trust headquarters at Rushbrook House in Bramford.

Although the money raised will only be a drop in the ocean compared to the PCT's debt of around £34.5m, at least something is being done to raise extra cash.

One thing is perplexing though. Why is it all the charges can not be implemented by this April instead of waiting 14 months until bringing in the pay-to-park ethos at the dozens of NHS sites across Suffolk?

IPSWICH Town's season today seems to have come to a premature end after the heartbreaking defeat to Watford in the final minute of injury time on Saturday.

Coming after a controversial sending off and a disallowed goal that briefly lifted everyone's spirits, the end result on Saturday left everyone connected with the club feeling flat.

The Blues now look too far off the pace to make a realistic challenge for a play-off place, and yet have probably done enough to be safe from relegation.

Now fans can only look forward to next season in the hope that this transition year will bear fruit in 2007/8.

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