Wake up, Ipswich!

RETISENCE is unusual in politicians, so just what's wrong with the controlling Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Ipswich, who took over running Ipswich borough council three months ago?Commendably, they're holding more Press conferences and media briefings than the previous Labour administration, but the availability of individual councillors to journalists is woeful.

RETISENCE is unusual in politicians, so just what's wrong with the controlling Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Ipswich, who took over running Ipswich borough council three months ago?

Commendably, they're holding more Press conferences and media briefings than the previous Labour administration, but the availability of individual councillors to journalists is woeful.

Take last week's Government announcement of council tax support for local authorities. Neither the leader Dale Jackson nor finance spokesman John Carnall could be tracked down and failed to respond to telephone messages. Given that everyone involved with local government knew the details were being released on Thursday lunchtime, it's not unreasonable to assume that someone could have made the time to issue a response.

The best the borough's public relations department could do was put up an officer, Peter Matthews, to give the reaction that the 3% increase for Suffolk's county town was disappointing. Meanwhile, all other council leaders in Essex and Suffolk were only too willing to either speak to the media or organise a Press release on the subject.


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Time, methinks, for Ipswich's politicians to get some media training.

AS a former journalist, Minister for Europe Denis MacShane knows that remarks made at private gatherings are promptly leaked to the media, especially if they are at complete variance with Government policy.

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Speaking to a group of Durham University students, our EU-loving minister accused Chancellor Gordon Brown's five economic tests for joining the euro as a "giant red herring." But when a tape-recording of his unscripted speech was made available by mischief making students, Mr MacShane dismissed the suggestion that he was criticising Government policy as "barmy."

Well, to the rest of us it sounded as if the Euro federalists' march towards the beaches of the south coast has been well and truly exposed - and soundly rumbled.

Euroscepticism, indeed eurohostility, in this country is still growing. Antipathy towards the EU was hardly hindered by yesterday's BBC Radio 4 Today Programme's excruciatingly over-the-top pandering to Peter Mandelson and his new regal lifestyle - picked up each day from his serviced flat in a chauffeur driven car he lords it over us as compensation for his failed political career in the UK.

Now the EU has banned the import of shelled brazil nuts, fearing that they contain massive amounts of the substance aflatoixin. Kernels can still be brought in from Bolivia and Peru, but not from Brazil.

Peter Morgan, chairman of the Combined Edible Nut Trade Association moans: "The EU has put overly stringent limits on this without really good evidence." And the Brazilian embassy's commercial spokesman points out that brazil nuts - beloved of the British as a festive treat - are harvested by Amazonian forest people "for whom the ban will have a big impact." Barring the import of such nuts is hardly the way for the richest nations to help the third world.

Cynic as I am, I wager that if Brazil had been a former French colony, no such ban ever would have been contemplated.

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