Ipswich being 'held back' by political squabbling

Terry Hunt Image copyright Archant
Image caption Terry Hunt's letter in the Ipswich Star called for the Labour and Conservative run councils to work together

Political squabbling between two councils is stopping Ipswich from "fulfilling its potential", a newspaper editor has said in an open letter.

Terry Hunt said it seemed there was an "apparent inability" or "unwillingness" from Ipswich borough and Suffolk county councils to work together.

Recent disputes between the authorities include a disagreement about the design of "welcome to Ipswich" road signs.

Leaders of both councils insisted they were "making good progress".

In the letter, addressed to county council leader Mark Bee and borough council leader David Ellesmere, Ipswich Star editor Mr Hunt said he believed the town had "great potential".

"There is increasing frustration among people I speak to about the apparent inability, or perhaps it is unwillingness, of Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council to work closely together for the future good of Ipswich," he said.

Image copyright Ipswich Borough Council
Image caption Plans for a new look Cornhill were announced in January 2014 but work on the project has not progressed
Image caption The county council says it has committed £21m to other parts of the town centre. including Queen Street
Image copyright Ipswich Borough Council
Image caption The borough council is disappointed that its design concepts for new signs have not been taken up

A £3.5m project to redevelop the Cornhill is on hold, with the borough council claiming the county council is refusing to invest in the scheme.

The authorities also recently clashed over whether electronic signs directing motorists to car parking spots should be installed.

David Ellesmere, leader of Labour-run borough council, said he was "very happy" to work with the county council.

"In two specific areas, the Cornhill regeneration project and digital information for car parks, we do need some clarity from the county about funding so we all know where we stand," he said.

"I'm seeking an urgent meeting with Mark to discuss this."

Image caption Ipswich Star editor Terry Hunt said he wanted the councils to work "in harmony"
Image copyright Google
Image caption The councils' headquarters are on the opposite side of the same road
Image caption Mark Bee and David Ellesmere both say they want to work together

Responding to Mr Hunt, Mark Bee, leader of the Conservative-run county council, said many of the schemes discussed were "cosmetic".

"We must get the fundamental elements in place before we start to worry about buying and installing new welcome signs," he said.

"I have been very clear that Suffolk County Council is contributing to town centre development and we are willing to work with the borough council to support further funding bids towards a revamp of Cornhill," he said.

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