First published in The Felixstowe Flyer, February 2021.

The impact of Covid-19 continues on our community with an increased number of confirmed cases and the closure of our schools. Unemployment is expected to rise in the coming months, not just locally but across the UK. We need opportunities for people to retrain and good quality jobs.

Work is currently underway on a 26-acre site at Clickett Hill, Trimley St Mary, alongside the A14 Port of Felixstowe Road to build an 11.5-acre warehouse for Uniserve. The project is expected to create five hundred new jobs and be operational by early Spring. We hope that the new jobs will be permanent roles rather than zero-hour contracts. We need as a society to improve earnings for low income working families and ensure more people are in secure employment.

The Conservative Government must do more to support people in low paid jobs and for part time workers. Brexit must not be allowed to undermine hard won protection for employees. For those not fortunate enough to be in employment, the benefits system must be enhanced, and the temporary £20 per week increase to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits should be made permanent to help those members of our community most in financial need. Too many families in Felixstowe entered the pandemic already at risk of poverty. The pandemic has thrown some families onto benefits and into poverty for the first time. More must be done to remove the stigma associated with unemployment and he need for financial support. Our response to the pandemic must be compassionate irrespective of whether people were already experiencing hardship or have been swept into it by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We need to increase the amount of low-cost housing available for families on low incomes and increase support for households who have high housing costs. We were extremely concerned to learn that plans for the land north of Walton High Street by housing developer Bloor Homes only includes 88 affordable homes rather than the 120 required by East Suffolk Council’s housing policy. The scheme includes a narrow spine road through the site which will link the A14 with Walton High Street. However, so far as we can tell, it is not the width of two cars so will require passing places. The developers have suggested the road would be built when the scheme was near completion. |However, it is hope that they will be persuaded to develop a temporary version of the road early i the development of the scheme, so that the lorries used during the construction phase can access the site directly from the A14, rather than causing unnecessary disturbance through the Trimley Villages and Walton High Street. This approach would also be much safer for pedestrians and motorists given the proximity of the site to the entrance of Felixstowe Academy. We will hold the developers to account at both the Town and District planning committees.

The Town Council has voted unanimously not to increase the precept for 2021. This means that the Town Council will not increase its element of the Council Tax this coming year. We are hopeful that the East Suffolk Council will follow Felixstowe Town Council’s lead.

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