Sometimes I despair! I have just spent the day in Endeavour House listening
to SCC debate the issues of the day: Middle Schools in Stowmarket, Suffolk's
Strategic Growth, Access and Transport arrangements for the Northern Fringe
(which is why I was there) and other items.
There were questions from the public (submitted in writing a week in
advance) with published answers provided at the start of the meeting, and
then read out loud and verbatim for the benefit of democracy. I heard point
and counter-point from Cabinet members, from members of the Council (who
were present but couldn't vote) and from the Executive member presenting the
paper. Some of the points were relevant, constructive and poignant. All were
ignored. With a Cabinet of nine, all from the same political party, every
vote was unanimous in favour of the paper presented. The debate had been
superfluous, time wasting and expensive. Most of the politicians spoke
simply to score points off the opposition, and particularly to criticise
Ipswich Borough Council.
Within the discussion on the Northern Fringe was the promotion and support
for a 'Brownfield First' policy (to be commended). A Councillor with
positions on both IBC and SCC pointed out that the Borough had already given
planning permission for a number of Brownfield developments, some of which
had even started (and stalled). "What," the councillor asked the portfolio
holder across the table "can Ipswich do next? How do we get developers to
finish what they have started, or build out what they've got planning
permission for when nobody is buying Waterfront flats?" The real question
here is, Ipswich needs more housing but how do Ipswich Borough Council
refuse an application for planning permission on a Greenfield site when
there are still undeveloped Brownfield opportunities?
The reply from the portfolio holder was to re-state the Brownfield First
policy and then a snide reminder that planning permission was a Borough not
a County issue!
O, and the same Cabinet member's solution to Access and Transport issues on
the Northern Fringe was a note to all new residents 'the use of your car
will be restricted', with a rider when he realised this was unrealistic,
'during the rush hour'.