Chancellor to open county council HQ

THE Chancellor of the Exchequer is being lined up to open Suffolk County Council's new £17m headquarters on the day he visits one of his flagship Sure Star schemes in Ipswich for pre-school children.

By Graham Dines

THE Chancellor of the Exchequer is being lined up to open Suffolk County Council's new £17m headquarters on the day he visits one of his flagship Sure Star schemes in Ipswich for pre-school children.

Gordon Brown, having accepted an invitation to see for himself the £1m conversion of a former pub in the town into a family centre, is being sounded out by Ipswich MP Chris Mole on the possibility of touring the Endeavour House complex which is replacing the 110 year-old County Hall.

Mr Brown's decision to open South East Ipswich Sure Start was announced yesterday by Tony Lewis, the County Council's portfolio holder for children and young people. No date has yet been set, but it is likely to be before June's elections to the European Parliament.


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The Chancellor, whose determination to remove pre-school age children from poverty has been a recurring theme of his Budgets since 1997, is keen to see for himself the impact this is having on the ground.

More than £1m. has been spent on converting a former public house in Clapgate Lane into the Tree House Sure Start Centre, a "one stop shop" where a range of services for families with children under four are all provided under one roof.

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Among the facilities on offer are an advice centre, play equipment, an ante natal centre, health courses and groups with crèches.

A neighbourhood nursery is due to open in September and there are long term plans for a community café, nursery, laundry, consulting rooms, a toy library and help with parenting.

Terry Ward, a corporate director with Ipswich Primary Care Trust, is chairman of the Sure Start Partnership that is responsible for overseeing the development of the Ipswich project. "Eroding child poverty has been one of the main themes of the Government's programme and of the Chancellor's Budgets.

"The Sure Start programme has been rolled out by the Government over a number of years and money allocated has gone to areas of greatest depravation. The South East Ipswich funding came in the second wave of cash from Whitehall and is making a huge impact on the community in that part of the borough," said Mr Ward.

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