Should Ipswich expand into other districts’ territory?
- Credit: Archant
A suggestion that Ipswich’s town boundaries should be expanded to include parts of other districts has been dismissed by leading figures in other authorities.
And they insist that at present there is no appetite at government level for widespread local government reorganisation – ministers’ attention is focussed on the devolution agenda rather than re-drawing local authority boundaries.
The issue sparked back to life after Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere responded to a question during the Ipswich Vision conference about whether the borough’s boundaries should change by saying he would like to see an expansion to include the whole urban area around the town.
He said a lack of borough control was one reason the authority had bought the sugar beet factory on Sproughton Road – although it is part of Greater Ipswich, it is actually in Babergh district.
Babergh’s deputy leader Simon Barrett also represents that authority on the Ipswich Policy Area panel which discusses planning issues in the area.
He said: “There is a certain logic to what David was saying, but we are where we are and I don’t think there is any change in the pipeline.
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“The authorities around Ipswich do work closely together on a number of areas, particularly planning, and I think we have a good relationship. Developing that is likely to be more important over the next few years than looking at structural change.”
The leader of Suffolk Coastal council, Ray Herring, also said the councils were working well together – but said there was no way his authority would accept any proposal to change boundaries in the Ipswich area.
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He said: “We have a good relationship and we want to see Ipswich become more successful. But we would not support redrawing of the boundaries.
“Suffolk Coastal District Council is an extremely successful area with a strong community.”
MPs Therese Coffey, James Cartlidge and Ben Gummer all agreed that re-drawing boundaries was not on the government’s agenda.
South Suffolk MP Mr Cartlidge agreed with Mr Barrett that he could see why Mr Ellesmere made the comment – but felt he would have to talk to constituents who might be affected in communities like Pinewood before he took a clear view. However he agreed it was not on the agenda.
And Mr Gummer was blunt: “We can talk fantasy boundaries for ever, but it will not create any new jobs. David was honestly answering a direct question – but those of us working on the Ipswich Vision know that is far more important for the future of the town.”