A Happy New Year to all.  What will the new year bring for Ipswich?

As the new Leader, the number one priority is a thriving town centre. This will take some time as it needs alternative uses to be found for the empty buildings.

This will create more footfall, bringing with it demands for further uses. We are in the relatively early stages of this process, and it is premature to expect immediate results.

If we could re-open the former Grimwades, Debenhams, H&M and BHS buildings, it would transform the town centre. 

However, these buildings are in private ownership, which make it difficult for the council to improve matters.

We should see the development of a new primary school on Carr Street progress.  The delay has been about preservation of a Grade II Listed mural at the back of the derelict Co-op department store.  The mural-bearing wall will now be retained. 

Unfortunately, there will not be much visible progress in 2024, as the first stage is to remove asbestos from the building.  The school is due to open in 2026.

We will see more benefits of the Town’s Fund money.  This has already funded the Botanist on the Cornhill, a centre for new energy technologies at Suffolk New College and the Integrated Care Academy at the University of Suffolk, which trains more medical professionals. 

There is funding this year for the Greener Ipswich team to bring trees and planters to the town.  You may have noticed some already near the Thomas Wolsey statue and at the Waterfront.

The first phase will add greenery from Christchurch Park, along Lloyds Avenue, Cornhill, Queen Street and the Saints to the Waterfront. See their website for more details: www.greeneripswich.org.uk

The Digital Town Centre project will see the website www.allaboutipswich.com improved, which will help residents and visitors find out what is happening in Ipswich.

Some Digital Information Boards and Screens will appear, providing essential information for visitors in the town centre including maps and what’s on information. More Augmented Reality trails are on the way, and I am looking forward to seeing what the public have suggested.

This year, the first detailed proposals for re-paving Lloyds Avenue and Arras Square will come forward for consultation.

On the Waterfront, detailed proposals for the Silo and its surrounding landscaping will be revealed. 

The red brick warehouse next to Dance East has been leased by IBC to Loungers. A Lounge is a neighbourhood café-bar combining elements of a restaurant, British pub and coffee shop culture.

There are over 200 Lounges nationwide and the Ipswich one will open in Autumn 2024.

The award winning and internationally acclaimed, Ipswich based Gecko theatre company will move to a purpose-built headquarters on West End Road. Proposals will be out for consultation in 2024.

There will be the small matter of a General Election in 2024. Are you all feeling like Brenda from Bristol, who became an internet sensation at the 2017 election. “You’re joking. Not another one!” The General Election is not a joke – it is an opportunity to get Britain’s future back.

Change is the question at the next election and the answer is Labour. Labour offers a decade of national renewal to replace 13 years of national decline, through five missions:

  • Get Britain building again – 1.5 million homes over five years
  • Switch on Great British energy – a new British company with cheaper bills
  • Get the NHS back on its feet
  • Take back our streets with stronger policing
  • Break down the barriers to opportunity

Realising our potential will be the Labour watchword for both Ipswich and Britain in 2024 and beyond.