Is west Suffolk losing county identity?

WEST Suffolk is in danger of being swallowed up by a “greater Cambridge” and losing its unique identity, it has been warned.

Will Clarke

WEST Suffolk is in danger of being swallowed up by a “greater Cambridge” and losing its unique identity, it was warned last night.

The warning comes amid a review on the way Suffolk is governed, with St Edmundsbury Borough Council calling for a separate West Suffolk unitary authority.

In a draft document drawn up by its officers, the council claimed the “rise” of Cambridge already meant west Suffolk had little economically in common with Ipswich and the east, which is focused on the Haven Gateway and Lowestoft.

It said the borough was already a “hinterland” of Cambridge, adding: “West Suffolk has effectively found itself being drawn to become part of Greater Cambridge, aligning itself with hi-tech clusters and knowledge-based industries.”

But this trend could put the area's Suffolk identity at risk, according to the Suffolk Preservation Society (SPS).

Most Read

Richard Ward, chairman of the society, said the balance between economic progress and quality of life had been maintained by existing local authorities but pressure to grow economically could sacrifice Suffolk's quality of life.

He said the expansion of a “greater Cambridge” was an economic reality on the ground and represented a challenge for Suffolk's identity as well as providing opportunities.

“Suffolk has a very clear identity and character, which we all value but these intensive areas, which don't reflect the county old boundaries,” he said.

“And with reform within Suffolk we carve up old areas at our peril because people need to feel connected to their areas.

“There may be economic benefits but we need to balance that with the cost to place and the environment.”

Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, said the west of the county had little in common with the east but still had a sense of Suffolk.

He said a west Suffolk council would fell less distant from places like Haverhill which looks almost exclusively to Cambridge for jobs and investment.

Martin Garratt, director of the Greater Cambridge Partnership, said they were an organisation looking to make the most of existing links to Suffolk.

He said: “This is not about creeping urbanisation often it can be very small-scale developments.

“We run different projects, which are appropriate to the area, it isn't about intensifying activity.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter