Two Bridges, One Suffolk

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On Friday I walked along the Ipswich Marina dockside and the sun was shining as I headed for the press announcement of the Architectural Practice we have appointed to Design the Upper Orwell Crossing in Ipswich…Foster + Partners who are one of the world’s foremost practices.  Who also have a wonderful track record in Ipswich having already designed the iconic Willis Building in 1975 that looks as if it was completed yesterday.

Earlier in the day I was ready about the press launch of the Lake Loathing Bridge announcement which was led by my colleague Guy McGregor.

These press events follow years of lobbying and hard work by Councillors and our great Local MPs Peter Aldous and Ben Gummer. The County has provided all the technical answers to the various questions and loops you must go through when obtaining funding and this has resulted in £73.39M from central Government for the Lowestoft bridge and £77.546M for the Ipswich bridges.  The County Council took a paper to Cabinet in May 2016 pledging the reminder of the monies £18.3M for the Lowestoft Bridge and about £19.1M for the Ipswich bridges.  Which demonstrated our commitment to these two exciting projects, both have different aims but both demonstrate Conservatives are committed to investing in our county’s infrastructure across Suffolk.

As you can see from the visuals the bridges will address the difficulty in getting about in Lowestoft and in Ipswich the bridges will open up significant high value employment land in a beautiful part of our County Town.

In the recent Annual Budget the Labour party proposed the spending of the general reserve over the next two years and then they would be eating into the very money allocated for these Bridge projects, their manifesto would cost so much that by the time the Council needed to contribute the sum we have promised there would be no money left with which to do so and we would have to borrow it!

So, imagine the irony when last week when Labour said the money is not there to build the Lake Loathing crossing in Lowestoft.  While I would not go as far to suggest this is “Fake News’, it would be fair to say the claim is entirely false. The funding required to complete Lake Loathing Third crossing is there and we are committed to ensuring the projects are completed. The shamelessness of the Corbynistas is just staggering.

My response to Labour’s comments was simple “The bridges will be build”.

And what I mean by that is, back in the real world, we have made a financial commitment to these two important projects in our County and if elected they will be built by a Conservative County Council.

Vote Conservative on 4th May.

All Councils are equal but some are more equal than others

Last Thursday Local Government watched and pondered what fresh challenge George Osborne was going to put to us in his autumn statement. As it was, much of what has been said to government by various Local Government figures not least Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the LGA that Councils that as a sector are, over the next 4 years, starting to reach the end of the level of savings it can make without having to look at front line services; this seems to be beginning to be accepted in government circles, which is probably the reasons why on balance local government was broadly left alone and not subject to the further cuts announced. The danger with this comment is that it can be misconstrued as the pressures off which it most certainly is not, the savings Suffolk County Council has to make of £156million of the next 4 year period are significant particularly coming on the back of the previous savings requirement of £90 million, which we have achieved, all at the same time of 3 years of no Council Tax increase and our commitment to no increases in the next 4 years.

Yet if you talk with ministers and highlight the good work we have been doing in Suffolk – such as the joining up of the back offices of most of the Districts and Boroughs. Minsters will say, yes good work, but there are still far too many councils in this county who simply are not getting the message. Of course we don’t have to look very far just look at Labour controlled Ipswich Borough Council who as always say they are for the people usually just before they push up the Council tax, whereas every other Suffolk Council finds ways to freeze it.

Further afield I was reminded of this at the weekend when I was in Barnsley, a Labour dominated Metropolitan Council, I was driving along when I saw a large black stretched new 7 Series BMW with the number plate ‘THE 1’ and a Chauffeur, I turned to my partner Lisa’s brother and said who’s car is that and was told ‘oh that’s the Mayor’s car!’, I honestly though he was joking until I saw the council logo on the side!

OK I admit Suffolk County Council does have some Ford Fiesta pool cars for the staff to use to get to meetings, but when you see a spectacular like that on the streets of Barnsley you sort of have to agree with Ministers. So whilst all councils are working hard to protect your hard earned council tax monies and finding ways to make the savings required; some Council bosses are doing it from the back of a Chauffeur driven stretched limo with a £500k personal plate!

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