First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, May 2020.

We are so fortunate to live in Felixstowe where there is a real sense of community, and party politics have been set aside as councillors from across the political spectrum, and voluntary groups, pull together to offer help and support for Felixstowe residents during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Town Council has been awarding grants to support local organisations and charities which are carrying out beneficial work in the local community by utilising the Council’s £25,000 Occasional Grant Fund and has donated a further £10,000 to the Felixstowe Relief Charity. Dedicated Town Hall staff continue to work from home coordinating the help needed for vulnerable members of our community and administering where possible the Government’s relief packages. Although most Council meetings have been temporarily cancelled, a small Planning and Environment Committee meets remotely once a week to consider planning applications. This can be a long process, with over fur hours spent online deliberating just the first phase of a housing development on the Candlett Road site. We have real concerns about the location of a proposed new school in Gulpher Road, access to the new development from the main Candlett Road, the anticipated loss of environmental features, and some elements of the design of the new homes.

During the current crisis the final decision on all planning matters affecting Felixstowe has been delegated to Head of Planning Services at East Suffolk Council. He discusses applications with a small panel of District Councillors before reaching a decision. Ferry Road residents will be disappointed that despite concerns expressed by the Town Council regarding the significant reduction in garden sizes and proximity of new houses to existing homes, East Suffolk Council have reluctantly approved a retrospective planning application by the developer, Optima homes Ltd.n

Considerable work was undertaken to review a revised scheme for the Wetherspoons public house, only to find that Wetherspoons have yet again decided to withdraw its planning application. Undoubtedly this is a sign of the times we find ourselves living through as developers up and down the country are unable to continue with anticipated building projects.

More than 1,500 people have sought help from Suffolk’s Citizens Advice services to cope with work worries, money problems and isolation during the coronavirus lockdown. Across the whole country people have been given help by volunteers taking redirected calls at their homes. We are so glad that we fought for the Citizens Advice not to lose their funding as was threatened at one time.

Nicky Wilshire, Chief Officer at Citizens Advice Ipswich said: “Probably the biggest area of calls we are getting are to do with the Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme and employees’ 80% subsidy, as well as queries from self-employed people wondering what their entitlements will be. At the moment there’s a lot of misunderstanding. A lot of what we are doing is explaining what the process and procedure is, who qualifies and how people are able to apply.” If you need help from Citizens Advice their telephone number is 0300 330 9016.

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