Labour blasts £25m for Ipswich as 'just an election promise'
PUBLISHED: 16:30 29 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:17 29 October 2019
The government's offer of a £25m cash boost for Ipswich has been dismissed as a pre-election bribe by council leader David Ellesmere - who knew almost nothing about the scheme until he read about it from us!
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick visited Ipswich last week to meet the town's Conservative candidate Tom Hunt, party supporters, and business leaders to talk about the offer.
But he did not meet anyone from the Labour-controlled borough council - the organisation he wants to administer the fund.
Mr Ellesmere said: "This is nothing more than an election promise from the government - if they had been serious they would have been touch with us about it. They haven't.
"When it was first announced at the start of September they said they would be sending us details. They haven't. All he's done is come to Ipswich for a photocall with the Tory candidate. He really ought to know that for a bribe to work there has to be some money with it - and there's nothing to see with this!"
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Mr Ellesmere said the money would be really welcome: "£25m would go a long way in Ipswich, we could do some really good things with it. But the fact is there is no sign of it except in these announcements which will probably be repeated regularly once the election is called!"
Mr Jenrick said that the government would be asking councils to board with business leaders to determine where the money should go - but his department has not yet been in touch with Ipswich council.
Among potential projects he was shown during his visit was Arras Square and the Old Post Office Building on the Cornhill - and he said the money could be used for infrastructure or other projects to improve the town over the next few years.
Mr Hunt gave the offer a much warmer welcome. He said: "It was great to welcome the Secretary of State to Ipswich to talk about all the different ways in which the Town Centre could benefit from this funding.
"I was glad that he was able to meet with representatives from Ipswich Vision and left with a clear sense that we're well placed to receive this money and to ensure that it makes a real impact.
"I will continue to lobby hard to ensure that Ipswich receives the full £25 million."