Poll: Should the borough buy land at Ipswich Waterfront by selling Portman Road?

Ben Gummer wants the former silo and Burtons buildings to be cleared at the entrance to the Waterfro

Ben Gummer wants the former silo and Burtons buildings to be cleared at the entrance to the Waterfront in Ipswich.

MP Ben Gummer’s suggestion that the borough should consider buying land at the Waterfront by selling the Portman Road stadium to Ipswich Town has provoked a mixed reaction.

The Star has called for the derelict buildings between Stoke Bridge and The Mill – including the former Pauls malting silo, and Burton’s factory overlooking the wet dock – to be demolished and the area cleared. It has suggested that the borough should use compulsory purchase orders if necessary.

That call was backed by Mr Gummer who said that the borough could sell some of the land it already owns in the town to fund the purchase, including the Portman Road stadium.

Football fans have today issued their concerns about the proposal, claiming that if the council sold the freehold to Portman Road, Ipswich Town may not necessarily remain in the town centre would be lost.

Labour councillor and Town season ticket-holder Alasdair Ross said: “I don’t question Marcus Evans’ commitment to the club – but the fact remains that if the council sold the freehold of the ground it would loosen its control over what happens there in the future.

“It could be that at some time in the long term someone could come in and seek to redevelop the area and move the club to a new stadium at Copdock or Trimley or somewhere like that.”

Comments on The Star’s website – www.ipswichstar.co.uk – were split down the middle between those who felt the ground should be sold to finance the Waterfront purchase and those who felt it should be retained by the council.

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Jason Pilbury said: “No way should Portman Road be sold to fix the councils mess up on the waterfront! Use there bonuses the fix it and spend the money on the town centre rather than on the failing waterfront.”

However, another reader added: “As for selling Portman Road - why not? And why stop there - sell Ipswich Buses as well. Quit thinking that you are an old style corporation and waken up to smell the coffee Ipswich Borough!”

Across the country several clubs’ grounds are owned by their local councils – although the majority are owned by the clubs themselves.

Among the clubs who are tenants of their local authority are Swansea City (Liberty Stadium), Hull City (KC Stadium), Middlesbrough (Riverside Stadium), and Coventry City (Ricoh Arena).

n Should the council consider selling Portman Road to finance other land purchases? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk