Why has the borough turned itself into Lady Bountiful?

David Ellesmere

David Ellesmere

It is fantastic news for Ipswich that the borough council is planning to rebuild the Crown Car Park, which had to be demolished in 2009 because of long-term problems with concrete cancer.

But why on earth has it taken the borough so long to make the decision?

The former car park was demolished more than five years ago by the previous Conservative/LibDem administration at the borough when a survey of the building showed it was no longer safe.

I’m not very impressed that they didn’t make a decision there and then to rebuild the town’s most important car park, but they didn’t.

But why didn’t the current Labour administration get on with at least looking at rebuilding the car park when it came to power in 2011? Why has it taken three and three quarter years to come up with the rebuilding plan?

A cynical man might conclude the proximity of the general election might have something to do with it. It’s a good job I’m not a cynic!

In fact the borough seems to be spreading good news like confetti at the moment.

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They’ve pledged £1million for redesigning the Cornhill, £1million to help with restoring Broomhill pool, £1.25million towards rebuilding Ipswich Museum, and have now put money aside for rebuilding Crown Car Park.

These pledges are great, and show the borough’s commitment to improving facilities in the town.

But with the exception of the car park all the other pledges are dependent on other parties coming up with much larger sums of money. In the meantime the money sits comfortably in the borough reserves allowing the authority’s accountants to use it to do what reserves do – make more money.

I can’t help feeling that if all the various partners on the three major projects all came through at the same time the borough might be left with a real headache about how to juggle these various commitments – but borough bosses must be pretty confident that their partners will not all come through together!

I’ve been covering politics in Ipswich now for 23 years, and local councillors and the decisions they make have always been a factor in the five general elections I’ve covered.

What has thrown this year’s campaign into sharp focus is the fact that the Labour leader of an overwhelmingly Labour dominated council is the Labour candidate in the general election.

Jamie Cann had stood down from the role well before the 1992 election. David Ellesmere has retained the leadership – and I’m aware that there have been serious concerns among opposition politicians that there has been a blurring of his roles over recent months.

One thing’s certain, the election campaign in Ipswich is going to become increasing tetchy over the next 98 days!