Town mayor: 'Go away you stupid people'

A MAYOR at the centre of a new homes row has admitted she told campaigners to “go away you stupid people” - but only because she feared for her safety.

Craig Robinson

A MAYOR at the centre of a new homes row has admitted she told campaigners to “go away you stupid people” - but only because she feared for her safety.

Joan Sennington last night said she has been left shocked by the “terrifying” ordeal, which saw hundreds of people protest outside a meeting of Felixstowe Town Council.

She said the individuals concerned acted “irrationally” and that she was still upset about the incident, which happened at Walton Community Hall on Tuesday night.

Campaigners have called on her to issue an apology and are considering referring the matter to the local government ombudsmen.

More than 200 people from Save Felixstowe Countryside were locked out of the meeting, which was held to discuss the council's view on plans to build 1,620 new homes in Felixstowe, the twin Trimley villages and Walton over the next 15 years.

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Mrs Sennington has been accused of telling the group to “go away you stupid people”.

“I did tell them to go away,” she said. “As far as I was aware I was getting ready to go to a normal meeting and then when I arrived I had all these people in my face - it was quite terrifying.

“They were threatening and they seemed ready to make trouble. I've never experienced anything like that in my life.

“People were acting totally irrationally - this was before the town council had even discussed anything. They didn't know what we were going to say.

“I'm still upset about it now. I stood in Felixstowe to do what I can for my town and I put myself up there and when something like this happens you start wondering if it's worth it.”

The sites up for discussion included fields between Trimley St Martin and Trimley St Mary, land the other side of the A14 between the Trimley interchange and dock spur roundabout, and sites off the Walton bypass and at Old Felixstowe.

The town council recommended that land adjacent to Candlet Road was the most suitable option for development and also requested a new area be considered west of Kirton Road from the Trimley roundabout.

Ken Ferris, spokesman for Save Felixstowe Countryside, said he would be writing to the town council to demand an apology from Mrs Sennington.

“I don't think we were irrational - I'm 100% passionate about saving our wonderful countryside and if it's mistaken for something else then so be it. The site they have recommended is a Greenfield site and once we break through there will be no going back.

“Not only that but they have ignored the advice of an independent report that cost £100,000 and picked the most unsustainable site - what a waste of tax payers money.

“Are we stupid because we care about the countryside? Are we stupid because we care about building next to an area of outstanding natural beauty?”

Mr Ferris said he would also like to see an extension of the consultation period on the plans because he believed more people in Felixstowe needed to know about the proposals.

Suffolk Coastal District Council will make the final decision on the site and are still asking for people to indicate which areas they would favour for housing.

Members of the public have until March 28 to send in their views and can also look at the plans at www.suffolkcoastal.gov.uk.

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