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Suffolk Bitesize: Your weekly council round-up, with news for Lowestoft, Ipswich and resignation of Suffolk MP Thérèse Coffey as Environment Secretary





Here’s some of what your representatives across the county have been up to since Monday, November 13.

Planning permission was granted to turn Lowestoft’s former town hall into a £10m multi-use hub.

The building is a town staple with over 150 years of history but has been empty after then-Waveney District Council moved out before the creation of the East Suffolk Council.

Former town hall building in Lowestoft's High Street to turn into a £10 million multi-use hub. Picture: submitted
Former town hall building in Lowestoft's High Street to turn into a £10 million multi-use hub. Picture: submitted

However, the plans will see the Town council bring its business back to the building alongside other services.

These will include a heritage hub, café, gallery, community event space, the Town Council’s office and registrar’s offices.

Sarah Foote, deputy town clerk in Lowestoft Town Council, said the plans would bring a ‘social and economic benefit’ to the town.

The new hall is set to reopen in late 2025, with work starting in April 2024.

New requirements for Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) have been approved in Ipswich.

Under the new rules, Ipswich landlords looking to change the use of a dwelling into a small HMO — up to six occupants — will need to go before the planning committee.

Cllr Carol Jones, who moved the motion, said this was an important step to secure living conditions.

A motion, which introduces new requirements for landlords converting their homes to house multiple tenants, was agreed. Picture: Joao Santos/IBC
A motion, which introduces new requirements for landlords converting their homes to house multiple tenants, was agreed. Picture: Joao Santos/IBC

She added: “Developers who buy little terraced houses in very nice, ordinary, parts of town should not be allowed to turn those into HMOs without going through a proper procedure.”

The new rules, which have been applied to ‘the smallest geographical area possible’, will affect several wards including Alexandra, Bixley, Castle Hill, and Gipping.

An ‘Ipswich Icon’ has been awarded the highest honour the borough can give him.

John Norman, who has worn many hats since he first came to Ipswich in 1979, was made Honorary Freeman of the Borough on Wednesday for a lifetime of work dedicated to the town’s residents.

Mr Norman, the current chairman of the Ipswich Society, has now joined the likes of Lord Kitchener and Sir Bobby Robson, made Freemen in 1902 and 2008 respectively.

John Norman from the Ipswich Society was made honorary freeman of Ipswich. Picture: Joao Santos
John Norman from the Ipswich Society was made honorary freeman of Ipswich. Picture: Joao Santos

Among Mr Norman’s many accolades, he said he was the most proud of his teaching career.

Lindsey Williams, Mr Norma’s daughter, said: “It’s the commitment that dad shows, and in everything I do, I hear that voice behind me just saying, just keep trying, just keep going.”

Grass-cutting in West Suffolk to be reviewed by councillors as concerns mount.

The overview and scrutiny committee met last Thursday to debate a review of council grounds maintenance in the district.

This will affect how the council approaches the 500ha of land it is currently responsible for.

Concerns about grass cutting have been raised. Pictured: Cllr Ian Shipp. Picture: submitted
Concerns about grass cutting have been raised. Pictured: Cllr Ian Shipp. Picture: submitted

The overgrowth has been due in part to increased demand, cost, and the warm and wet weather.

Cllr Ian Shipp a cabinet member who, alongside a cross-party group, took on the responsibility, said: “I hope the outcome of this review will help us achieve that balance of looking after our environment but also making sure areas are kept tidy.”

The review will carry on until it is presented at the cabinet meeting on December 5.

East Suffolk Greens have hit back following Therese Coffey’s resignation as Environment Secretary.

The announcement came on Monday during the Prime Minister’s reshuffle, followed by the announcement of her replacement, Steve Barclay.

Cllr Rachel Smith-Lyte, the council’s cabinet member for the environment, welcomed the resignation.

Suffolk MP, Therese Coffey, resigned from the government as Rishi Sunak reshuffled his cabinet. Picture: Submitted
Suffolk MP, Therese Coffey, resigned from the government as Rishi Sunak reshuffled his cabinet. Picture: Submitted

She said: “I’m amazed she’s been around as long as she has, both in terms of being environment minister, which is laughable and as an MP for this area.

“It isn’t just a case of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic — we’re in a pretty desperate state.”

Adrian Ramsay, the Green parliamentary candidate for the new Waveney Valley constituency also weighed in, saying there is a need for a ‘fresh start on the environment’.