Should Newmarket remain in Suffolk or be in Cambridgeshire?
- Credit: Mike Rouse/Amy Drummond/Boundary Commission for England
A "prestigious" town that has a constituency border running through it should remain in Suffolk, a councillor has said, adding "Cambridge would strip it bare".
The comments were made by Newmarket councillor Andy Drummond after an historic debate about whether Suffolk or Cambridgeshire should claim the market town was reignited due to proposals to redraw its parliamentary constituency boundary.
Under the recently-announced plans, Newmarket - known as the national home of horseracing - would still be split between two parliamentary constituencies, but would be part of a new constituency with Bury St Edmunds.
Peter Cresswell, a former chairman of East Cambridgeshire District Council, described the current situation with Newmarket falling under two district councils and two county councils as "terribly confusing". His own home is on the East Cambridgeshire side of Newmarket.
He said the review by the Boundary Commission for England "is the key opportunity for it to be put right," adding: "It's surrounded by Cambridgeshire villages and in the years I have lived here, which is 19 years, I just think it's not been terribly well-served by the Suffolk authorities."
Tom Kerby, a former East Cambridgeshire District councillor, shares Mr Cresswell's views.
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Mr Kerby, a former deputy mayor of Newmarket, said: "I just feel you look at the map and look at where Newmarket sits; it seems we are a small, little bump in West Suffolk when Cambridgeshire County Council and East Cambridgeshire District Council would serve us better."
He added: "I have always aligned myself with Cambridge and Ely. I never look to Bury at all."
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But Mr Drummond, a town councillor, West Suffolk councillor and Suffolk County councillor for Newmarket, strongly disagreed with their views, adding he "would not be keen on Newmarket going into Cambridgeshire" and "would fight it vehemently".
He said: "I don't want Newmarket becoming a dormitory town for Cambridge. It's much more important than that. It's the national home of horseracing. That's why I see Newmarket being much safer in Suffolk."
He added: "I don't think Cambridge would protect it. I think Cambridge would strip it bare."
Mr Drummond thought it made more sense for the part of Newmarket that’s in East Cambs to be moved into Suffolk.
"It's 10% of Newmarket that's in Cambridgeshire, not 90%," he said.
Mr Cresswell, who is now retired, highlighted that Newmarket doesn't have its own household waste recycling centre, with residents having to travel to Mildenhall, as one example of how the "prestigious" town deserves more from Suffolk councils.
Mr Kerby, who now lives in the West Suffolk part of Newmarket, compared parking in Newmarket and Ely - where in the former West Suffolk Council is increasing charges but in the latter it's free.
West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council were contacted for comment.
Mr Drummond said when he was mayor he tried to get Newmarket recognised as Royal Newmarket, which he would be raising again as it's the Queen's Platinum Jubilee next year.
Mayor of Newmarket councillor Michael Jefferys said Newmarket Town Council did not currently have a policy about its preferred administrative area.
He added: "There could be advantages to being in Cambridgeshire, because we are much closer to Cambridge than Ipswich. However, many people in Newmarket identify themselves as living in Suffolk, and such identification is very important."
He said Newmarket is a "unique town" in "a most beautiful setting" but accepted there did need to be improvements to its infrastructure.
"We are working closely with West Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council and the Jockey Club Estates to realise our vision for Newmarket," he said.