Melton Hill development – again

The boarded and empty buildings that were once the Suffolk Coastal premises
Desolate, barred and empty – the old Suffolk Coastal buildings, controversially still awaiting development

So, the old Suffolk Coastal Offices on Melton Hill are finally back on the market after five years of boarded windows, weedy courtyards, and locked barriers to unoccupied car parks.

Not before time. The entire process to now has been a fiasco.

Never was there five years when the existence of such a lot of empty space showed up so badly. There they stood, wifully and wastefully unused in a town that is bursting at the seams  – a town where there’s nowhere to park, nowhere for people of even moderate means to rent or buy, where every little wedge of extra space is for sale or in the process of development. And the people who grew up in Woodbridge (as did their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) are increasingly squeezed out.

We needed social space – yet all those rooms, the spacious council chamber, were locked and unavailable.

We needed parking – yet the car-parks were not available.

We had a need for shelter – yet the nearest place for the homeless was either Felixstowe or Ipswich.

And, we’ve long had a need for ordinary homes for ordinary people: young singles, living with their parents long after they wanted to; older people wanting to downsize but unable to afford  to, disabled people needing specialised accommodation with freedom, and young families wanting to establish themselves here. We need them as much as they need the housing.

In a year of lockdown, when extra space was at a premium it seemed particularly and  shockingly redundant because we needed these things more – as key workers, living with elderly parents had to isolate, or numbers of adult children descended on their parents.

That ever more crumbling site could have been put to many uses to benefit us, it’s ultimate owners.

So now that it’s back on the market again, let’s not make the mistake of such deadly inaction, East Suffolk!

And when we look at getting added value for the people of the district, and approval from the town and its inhabitants, please let’s remember value is not always a matter of hard cash. We can sell the site for a quick buck – or we can develop the site within some form of unsaleable trust  to create dynamic and environmentally sustainable community housing with sustainable transport links to support the people of the area for generations to come.


Incel recognition training in Suffolk

Following the terrible and tragic events in Plymouth last Thursday, it seemed clear that the Incel movement is a barely recognised but increasing extremist movement fostered by lone online contacts – ad that lockdown was an ideal time for such a movement to grow unrecognised.

I therefore wrote to Cllr Matthew Hicks, Leader, and Nicola Beach CEO of SCC, copied to all county councillors:

It has become clear that the “incel ” movement, which radicalises some young men via hatred of women, is as much a danger to the public as any other extremist movement. It is also currently flying under the radar.

As shadow Spokesperson for Women I am asking you to assure me that SCC Combating Extremism training will in future include information about the incel ideology, how it is spread, who is at risk, and how best it can be combated.

Such training would seem to be essential both within the council and for the organisations it supports, to allow professionals and councillors to help identify and contain any such movement within the county.

I will be writing separately to Tim Passmore to express the same concerns.

I have since received a reply from Nicola Beach on behalf of herself and the Leader to confirm that training will be altered to include this.