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Row breaks out over slogan for Ipswich Tories' housing policy

PUBLISHED: 19:00 15 April 2019

This slogan from Ipswich Conservatives has sparked concern in the town. Picture: IPSWICH CONSERVATIVE ASSOCIATION

This slogan from Ipswich Conservatives has sparked concern in the town. Picture: IPSWICH CONSERVATIVE ASSOCIATION

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Ipswich Conservatives have been reported to the town’s council for racial equality over a slogan they are using to promote their new housing policy.

Ipswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said utilising brownfield sites was essential. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCILIpswich Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said utilising brownfield sites was essential. Picture: IPSWICH COUNCIL

The Tory manifesto for Ipswich council's elections says council houses should only be available to people who have lived in the town for at least six years.

It says: “We will introduce a local residency requirement. Only local people will be able to join the local housing register and be eligible for council housing. There are example of other councils doing this. It's time for Ipswich Borough Council to do the same.”

The slogan they are using to promote this is: “Ipswich Conservatives. Campaigning for local houses for local people.”

That angered former LibDem councillor Andrew Cann whose party was in coalition with the Tories running the borough until 2011.

He is no longer involved in politics, but said: “This is dog whistle politics. I can't believe some of those I worked with at the borough would support this. I think it may be inadvertent, but I have asked ISCRE (Ipswich and Suffolk Commission for Racial Equality) to advise on this.”

He said it was not the policy that disturbed him and many people he talked to – but the slogan they were using to promote it.

The leader of the Conservative group on Ipswich council, Ian Fisher, said the six-year policy was used by the London borough of Havering.

He welcomed the news that ISCRE would be looking at the issue raised by Mr Cann.

He said: “This is a debate that is well worth having. There is a shortage of social housing and people feel that there should be priority to those people from the town who need homes.”

Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said homes were allocated on a basis of need – but having strong connections with the town was a major factor in allocating them.

He wasn't impressed by the party's complaints about a lack of council homes: “The Conservatives have really missed the point on this.

“If the local Tories hadn't taken our plans to build council homes at Ravenswood to court and the national Tory government in the 1980s and 90s had allowed us to use the receipts from council house sales to build new homes there wouldn't be such a dire shortage in the first place!”

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