Today I received a letter from the Conservative Party urging me to use my postal vote to support their two candidates for the Lowestoft South Division of the Suffolk County Council on 6th May. The trouble is that the concept of support is usually reciprocal. I needed to ask myself, “Have they represented the best interests of their constituents during their previous period in office, enough to prompt me now to support their re-election? I’m afraid the answer is a resounding ‘No’ for one major reason.
Suffolk County Council comprises 75 seats 48 of which are currently held by the Conservatives. In spite of the valiant efforts of a few opposition councillors the Conservative had a large enough majority to ignore them and to pass any proposal they pleased. One of these was the removal of the majority of Lowestoft’s local history archive from the Lowestoft Record Office to an expensive vanity project in Ipswich called ‘The Hold’.
A report by the Suffolk County Archivist in 1983 pointed out the expense and difficulty of travel to Ipswich from North-East Suffolk and explained that there is a widespread unwillingness of owners of records resident in that area to deposit them in an office in Ipswich. That was the justification for establishing a Lowestoft Record Office in the first place. The expense and difficulty of travel 40 years later has remained the same.
It is only natural that those of us who have been contributors of records to the Lowestoft Record Office expected that material to remain within easy reach of the local population. It was a real shock when we discovered in January 2018 the plan to move the contents of LRO to Ipswich. Most donations are only of interest to the local people and to move them 40 odd miles away removes them from the sphere of interest by making them no longer easily accessible by local residents. This is no encouragement to future potential donors to continue to contribute.
This whole confused mess has been created by the misguided policy of Suffolk Archives and members of Suffolk County Coumcil. In spite of having the negative results of that policy ably demonstrated to them by the North East Suffolk campaign group Save Our Record Office (SORO), SCC and Suffolk Archives have shown no inclination to moderate it let alone reverse it.
Sadly we cannot vote the members of Suffolk Archives out of office, would that we could! We do, however, have that option when it comes to members of Suffolk County Council. Please remember the track record of the Conservative majority on Suffolk County Council when you come to cast your vote on 6th May.