Suffolk: New role to give a voice to towns at county level

Beccy Hopfensperger

Beccy Hopfensperger - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s largest towns – especially Ipswich – are to have a new voice on the top table of the county following this month’s elections.

While the Conservatives retained their overall majority on the county council, the party ended up with only two councillors from its three largest towns.

Alan Murray retained the Bixley seat in Ipswich and Sarah Stamp won the Hardwick seat in Bury St Edmunds from the Liberal Democrats. Urban Lowestoft now has no Conservative county councillors.

Now Beccy Hopfensperger – who lives in Bury although she represents a rural division on the county council – has been appointed cabinet member for localities by county council leader Mark Bee.

A major part of her role will be to liaise with boroughs and districts to ensure the towns have a significant voice at the county.

She said: “It’s a completely new role, but it is very important because there are major issues facing the three largest towns, especially Ipswich.

“I will be representing the county on the Beacon Town initiative in Ipswich and hope to work quite closely with the borough council to push ahead with improving things.”

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Ipswich is the only council in Suffolk that is not run by the Conservatives – Labour won back power in 2011 – but Mrs Hopfensperger has no fears about working with its leader David Ellesmere.

She said: “Politics should not really come into this. I want to work with the borough to see how we can move the town forward – and bring other bodies into that as well.”

Mr Ellesmere said he was looking forward to his first meeting with her: “The county’s Tories were defeated in all the main towns in Suffolk – but we have to work with the county so it will be good to have a point of contact.”

The county is working with the borough and Ipswich Central on proposals for revamping the Cornhill following Sir Stuart Rose’s uncompromising comments on it at last year’s Beacon Town conference.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the appointment was very important and should herald a new phase for co-operation between the town and county.

He said: “I shall be meeting Beccy soon, and I think this shows the importance (council leader) Mark Bee and his administration puts on supporting and developing our towns.

“This is good news, and I hope all the bodies can work successfully together.”

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