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'Cesspit' jibe councillor to keep job despite angering Tory colleagues

PUBLISHED: 05:30 12 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:56 15 January 2019

Councillor Geoff Holdcroft outside the offices of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils in Woodbridge

Councillor Geoff Holdcroft outside the offices of Suffolk Coastal and Waveney District Councils in Woodbridge

Suffolk Coastal deputy leader Geoff Holdcroft will retain his role at the council - despite sparking a row after appearing to describe Ipswich as a "cesspit".

Mr Holdcroft denied he was referring to Suffolk’s county town when he talked about “the cesspit down the road” at a planning meeting last week – but apologised to anyone who felt it was a reference to Ipswich and he admitted he should not have made the comment.

Mr Holdcroft’s comments provoked irritation and anger among both his Conservative colleagues and business leaders in Ipswich.

As well as his council role Mr Holdcroft, who lives in Woodbridge and is a former mayor of the town, also holds a senior position in the regional Conservative Party hierarchy.

Suffolk Coastal leader Ray Herring said he had spoken to his deputy but there would be no change in roles at the council: “Geoff has apologised. This should not have been said – but it is dealt with now and we move on.”

Suffolk County council leader Matthew Hicks said: “All the Conservatives in Suffolk know that to have a successful county we have to have a successful Ipswich.

“I am proud to work in the heart of the town – and to work well with other Ipswich authorities to bring in major improvements to the area.

“Geoff has said he was not referring to Ipswich when he made the comment.”

However Mr Hicks’ cabinet colleague Paul West was not so accepting of Mr Holdcroft’s denial. He said: “I’ve seen the video of the meeting twice and I have no doubt he was referring to Ipswich when he made that comment.”

He said the comment ignored great improvements made in the town over recent years.

Mr West is cabinet member for Ipswich and lives in the town. He made his position clear by tweeting: “Even if I had all the money in the world I would still choose to live in Ipswich rather than Woodbridge”.

It wasn’t just politicians who were angered by the comments. Paul Clement, the chief executive of the business improvement district company Ipswich Central, tweeted: “Whether Ipswich was meant, or somewhere else, matters not one jot; it’s disgraceful and unforgivable to describe someone else’s place as a ‘cesspit’.”

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