Ipswich: Fore Street row rumbles on as work nears completion

The war of words between Conservative MP Ben Gummer and his Labour challenger David Ellesmere over Fore Street is continuing – even though the road is about to reopen.

Mr Gummer, whose constituency office is in the street, has accused the borough – led by Mr Ellesmere – of failing to help businesses who have been hit by the roadworks which were undertaken by energy giant National Grid.

However Mr Ellesmere said the borough had promised to delay the payment of business rates until National Grid had offered compensation.

Mr Gummer has written an open letter to Mr Ellesmere saying: “Their (National Grid) interference with the trade of businesses has brought several to the edge of ruin.

“Through my intervention they have sped up work: most of the work will now be completed this weekend.

“I am now doing all I can to ensure that local businesses receive the compensation they deserve. What would be most helpful, however, would be a relief on the Business Rate debts themselves.

“I have consulted the Department for Communities and Local Government and established that you have the power to grant relief on the business rates paid by shops in the area.”

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Mr Ellesmere said that Mr Gummer was negotiating with National Grid, and the council had made it clear that it would not be seeking rate payments from businesses until they had received compensation from the company.

He said: “If we turned round and gave them full rate relief now, there would be no need for National Grid to make any compensation payment and we would end up with the taxpayer funding the compensation rather than the commercial business that had caused the problem.”

National Grid completed its work last week, and the county council is finishing the re-paving work as part of the Travel Ipswich programme – the road should be open by the end of the week.

Have you been affected by the Fore Street work? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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