MP says there must be public support before Ipswich launches city bid
- Credit: House of Commons
An MP has said there needs to be public support for Ipswich becoming a city before he backs any application for the prestigious status.
Tom Hunt, who represents the town, was reacting after nearby Colchester was named as one of eight towns across the UK and Falkland Islands to be granted city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
He cited a ‘scientific’ poll of residents conducted by Ipswich Central, which he said demonstrated a majority against the idea of the town turning into a city.
Mr Hunt said the survey of 500 residents by phone and in person found 46% against city status and 41% in favour, with 13% undecided. The results highlighted a generational divide, with a clear majority of over-60s against, while younger residents supported the status.
Mr Hunt said: “The debate about city status is about a number of things. It is do with the practical benefits of city status and it is profoundly about identity. Ultimately, it is a process that is led by the people of Ipswich.
“I took the view that I needed a sense that is what the people of Ipswich wanted and I did not get that sense.”
He added that a further application could not be submitted until there was public support.
However, Sophie Alexander-Parker, chief executive of Ipswich Central, disagreed with the MP and said she had not met a single person or business owner who did not want city status.
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She said: “It's more than a disappointment for Ipswich not to have pressed for city status. In all but name, Ipswich is a city and would have shown pride in our place.
“Even though there is huge frustration and disappointment at the decision on this, we must not be downbeat. Partnership and collaboration is key, with strong leadership required to move forward."
And Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council, echoed her sentiments, calling city status a positive ambition for the town.
“It is really disappointing because I think there would have been an energy in the town to apply for city status. We have a fantastic arts and culture offer that makes us pretty distinctive in the region.
“We have a fantastic waterfront, we have an awful lot going for the town and city status would have been something to go for,” she said.