Paul Geater

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Over the last week there have almost been times when you could park Covid-19 and feel as if “normal” politics had returned to Suffolk with rows about council candidates and an argument between a local MP and government quango.

Every week at present feels like a crucial point in the battle against Covid-19 and the struggle to keep the country together – but this week feels more important than most as the government introduces the new three-tier approach to fighting the disease, writes Paul Geater.

Today East Suffolk lies at a crossroads – the future of the east of the county now seems certain to rest in the hands of London-based civil servants and ministers – and to be honest I don’t know which way they will jump when push comes to shove.

This week we’re all being asked our opinions on proposals for new projects for Ipswich that might be funded with £25m as part of a Town Deal scheme using direct government investment.

This week’s news that the rail franchise system is effectively dead and is to be replaced by a new “commissioning” model with the government engaging companies to run specific services has been lost in all the other news about Covid, but it’s a really big deal for travellers, says Paul Geater.

It is a feature of the world we live in today that opinions (amplified by social media) have become more entrenched, in many cases more extreme, and that far too often what should be a rational debate can end up as a rather unpleasant name-calling exercise.

This is a column that has changed radically in my head from when I first thought: “What should I write about this week?” on Sunday afternoon.

Anyone who has heard, or read, what Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has been saying over the last few months will not have been surprised at his broadside at the BBC over the weekend.

Last week Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter sent a letter to major employers asking them to get as many staff as possible back to work in their town centre offices and other premises in a bid to boost business in the heart of the town.

Back in mid-March when lockdown was brought in, one of the most seriously-affected industries was public transport.

Everyone likes to go away on holiday – and most want their week or fortnight away from home to be as stressless, relaxing, and enjoyable as possible.

Will the government’s proposed changes to planning law suddenly allow millions of much-needed new homes across the country to be built?

We still have no idea how the pandemic will play out, how long Britain (and the rest of the world) will have to in the shadow of Covid-19, and what will emerge in a post-Covid future.

When you’ve been around as long as me, it’s not surprising that the same stories come round and round again – but this week there have been a couple of issues that have blown up which have been in the melting pot for literally decades.

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