Two moments in time for county council

WHEN the history is written of Suffolk county council from its creation in 1974 to its probable demise in 2010, it will focus on two defining moments.The first is the vote by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors to increase council tax in 2002 (check) by 18.

Graham Dines

WHEN the history is written of Suffolk county council from its creation in 1974 to its probable demise in 2010, it will focus on two defining moments.

The first is the vote by Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors to increase council tax in 2002 (check) by 18.5%. The second is the Conservatives' mishandling of the £70,000 pay regrading of the chief executive without any reference to a full meeting of the council.

Make no mistake about it - the regrading is the Tories' 18.5%. And although it is unlikely to have the same long term electoral impact as the massive hike in council tax, it could have a bearing on how the voters cast their ballots in the upcoming Stowmarket North & Stowupland by-election.

The Liberal Democrats gained the adjoining Thedwestre South division in a by-election last month and the Tories will do well if they hold Stowmarket. There could also be a knock-on effect on the annual elections in Ipswich and Waveney - the public cares little about the distinction between county and district authorities and could lash out at Conservative candidates in the two districts in a “plague on both your houses” response to the decision to retrospectively regrade the new chief executive after appointing her.

HAVING moved to Felixstowe nearly a year ago, it's only natural that I'm taking more than a passing interest in the future of the town and any proposals for new development. Unfortunately, I find myself at loggerheads with residents opposed to housing to the north and east of the A14.

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Felixstowe and the adjoining Walton and Trimley communities is a natural organic growth point, given that the East of England has to find land on which to build more than 500,000 homes to meet the need for affordable homes to help first time buyers and essential workers who are being priced out of the market.

I don't buy the argument that Felixstowe will be losing a green lung and valuable recreation space. A town which has a four mile seafront, a number of safe beaches and cliff top walks has more than enough open air amenities for its residents to enjoy.

GORDON Brown is right to defend the Union. In a speech in Aviemore, he said: “If, as I believe, the Union is a multiplier for good that too often and for too long has been taken for granted, then it is time now to explain how the Union can benefit all of us.”

Although taxpayers in the rest of the UK would be better off if Scotland went its own sweet way - we would not be subsiding free university tuition, free social care for the elderly, and free bus rides for the ungrateful Scots - dividing the islands of Great Britain into more than one nation is just plain illogical.

As regular readers will know, I prefer a federal solution with England having its own parliament with the UK government being responsible for policing, defence, foreign affairs, immigration and fiscal policy.

Labour's half-baked devolution to Scotland has not worked. The Scottish Nationalists, who control the Holyrood administration, are gearing up to engineer a referendum north of the border in 2010 - and if they get a majority not only will it be a tragedy, but the Conservatives will gain an in-built majority in the remainder of Britain.

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