Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Do Ipswich Tories understand planning?

I am not sure they do, but if they do it then becomes obvious they are just playing to the NIMBY crowd and trying to gain votes for May. Showing more concern for some quick votes rather than having a real concern for the town.

This Saturday, their leader, Cllr Cenci (or their MP, Ben Gummer) decided to kick off 2015 by flooding St Margaret’s Ward with a flash and I guess expensive leaflet – which informs residents that the new development on the Ipswich Northern Fringe will increase traffic times by 15 minutes! It then asks residents to go to a website, where they can download two reports that indicate travel times will increase by 15 minutes and this is where the whole Tory argument starts to fall apart.

The two reports are not from Ipswich Borough Council and are actually from a planning application by the developers of part of the site.
The website then asks you to tell Ipswich Borough Council what you could do with that 15 minutes!

Now for most of the residents who they delivered the leaflet to, can already walk into town – in less than 15 minutes. But maybe slightly more sinister, the feedback form does not go to Ipswich Borough Council, it goes to the Tory Party and not only that if you read the small print they are not going to share it with the Council as if you look carefully at the bottom of the form it states - n ‘We will not share the details with anyone outside the Conservative Party’.

So in fact instead of actually seeking resident’s views they are just attempting to capture email addresses so they can send junk mail from Mr Gummer to residents over the next 5 months. To help with this task there are only two small mentions of the word Conservative on the website page.
The leaflet also fails to mention Mr Gummer, he did later tweet alongside a picture of the leaflet that the distribution of them was helping get his ‘vision’ for Ipswich across to residents. So why no mention on the leaflet or the website of Mr Gummer?

Does he not actually agree with the sentiment of the leaflet?

Unlike it seems Cllr Cenci, does he understand the planning procedure?

Or did he want to leave his name off both the leaflet and the website so any costs for their production would not be included in his election expenses?

I would hope he does understand the planning process as it does seem to me that Cllr Cenci is slightly (to say the least) it seems unsure of the procedure.

Cllr Cenci and the majority of the Tory and Lib Dem Group voted for the Northern Fringe development, at first on twitter, Cllr Cenci seemed to want to say she never but then said she had voted for and along with the rest of the Tory Group were for the development but were against the interim Northern Fringe Masterplan. (Which they did not vote for) Cllr Cenci even went further to say she had not voted for the Northern Fringe in the last 4 hours! I guess she meant 4 years.

The Tory twitter feed also declared support for the development but only with the much needed improvements to the current infrastructure but this again highlighted the lack of planning knowledge of the Tory Group and their leader.

If the council had not adopted a Masterplan then under the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, the current planning application for Westfield Road would have had to be approved because there was nothing to judge it against.

Now we do need new roads, schools, shops and the Masterplan does indicate that but funding for the roads will not only have to come from the developer but also the Tory run County Council and the Tory run Government in fact the much needed trunk road would actually need to be built outside the Borough in Central Suffolk. Now the Tory Government has just announced considerable spending for roads in East Anglia, the A12 in Essex and the A14 north of Cambridge. Both road improvements will benefit Ipswich residents but so would a Northern link road but I have not heard of either Ipswich Tory MP asking for it.

We need house, young Ipswich residents need family homes- and we want to help developers build them but it seems the Tories are just keen to put barriers in place, now it is not just Ipswich Borough council that need to build homes, our neighbours like Babergh are also looking to build homes and currently there are plans to build new homes in Belstead – without new roads and infrastructure but the Tories seem to think this is OK, even if residents of those new homes may end up using roads through South West Ipswich estates as their transit route to and from work. So from their silence are we right in thinking that the Tories are not concerned about extra traffic in South West Ipswich?

I the end, I believe there are just two answers to the question – ‘Do Ipswich Tories understand planning?

'No', and that is why they are confused over the need to have an adopted Masterplan’ or ‘Yes’ they do understand the planning process and are ignoring it just to gain a few quick votes by appealing to those who are against any development no matter how much infrastructure is built.

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