New efforts to develop the town centre are welcome

Paul Clement, chief executive, Ipswich Central

Paul Clement, chief executive, Ipswich Central - Credit: Archant

Town Topics with Ipswich Central

Lloyds Avenue and the Cornhill in Ipswich.

Lloyds Avenue and the Cornhill in Ipswich.

We were delighted last week to hear that Ipswich had been announced by Government as one of 12 winners in the Coastal Town Communities competition.

It brings with it £10,000 and, much more importantly, further recognition for how we are continually seeking to develop our town centre.

We will be spending the money through the new Greater Ipswich Partnership, a group involving ourselves, Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council, surrounding Boroughs, the Chamber of Commerce, the University, the LEP and business and community leaders.

We have come together to deliver on priorities for the wider town, including the town centre. A stronger Ipswich is a stronger County.

As we head towards the election, we are probably all considering the landscape that will exist after the polls close on May 7th. From what the media seem to be telling us, it is a very close race.

When preparing to write this column, I was thinking about the last election. Do you remember how Gordon Brown was told by his advisors “talk about anything, but don’t mention the ‘cuts’”? In one of the televised debates, he slipped up and mentioned the word and with it his campaign slipped up too.

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This time, everyone agrees that the cuts will continue but the new word “not to mention” is ‘austerity’ as all the parties have their own version of what that looks like and who it should or will affect most and how quickly.

What is certain is that the job of turning around our economy is not complete.

In this landscape, local authorities will continue to have less capacity to deliver on their own. It is, therefore, important that groups such as the Greater Ipswich Partnership and organisations like Ipswich Central are fully engaged with councils to help them deliver. Partnership working has been a much-used phrase over many decades but the need for it has never been more true than today.

Up and down the country there are still too many councils that believe that they can do everything themselves and that, as soon as austerity is over, life will return to normal. Well, I think they are wrong; the future lies in new ways of working, particularly jointly with the private sector. It is this that will yield far better results from now on.

The Greater Ipswich Partnership has just proved this with its recent win. Long may partnership working continue in Ipswich.

Paul Clement

Ipswich Central

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