Sometimes I despair! I have just spent the day in Endeavour House listening to SCC debate the issues of the day: Middle Schools in Stowmarket, Suffolk's Strategic Growth, Access and Transport arrangements for the Northern Fringe (which is why I was there) and other items.
There were questions from the public (submitted in writing a week in advance) with published answers provided at the start of the meeting, and then read out loud and verbatim for the benefit of democracy. I heard point and counter-point from Cabinet members, from members of the Council (who were present but couldn't vote) and from the Executive member presenting the paper. Some of the points were relevant, constructive and poignant. All were ignored. With a Cabinet of nine, all from the same political party, every vote was unanimous in favour of the paper presented. The debate had been superfluous, time wasting and expensive. Most of the politicians spoke simply to score points off the opposition, and particularly to criticise Ipswich Borough Council.
Within the discussion on the Northern Fringe was the promotion and support for a 'Brownfield First' policy (to be commended). A Councillor with positions on both IBC and SCC pointed out that the Borough had already given planning permission for a number of Brownfield developments, some of which had even started (and stalled). "What," the councillor asked the portfolio holder across the table "can Ipswich do next? How do we get developers to finish what they have started, or build out what they've got planning permission for when nobody is buying Waterfront flats?" The real question here is, Ipswich needs more housing but how do Ipswich Borough Council refuse an application for planning permission on a Greenfield site when there are still undeveloped Brownfield opportunities?
The reply from the portfolio holder was to re-state the Brownfield First policy and then a snide reminder that planning permission was a Borough not a County issue!
O, and the same Cabinet member's solution to Access and Transport issues on the Northern Fringe was a note to all new residents 'the use of your car will be restricted', with a rider when he realised this was unrealistic, 'during the rush hour'.