Thousands back Ipswich city bid as business calls for rethink on proposal

Paul Clement

Paul Clement said the business community in Ipswich was almost universally behind a city bid. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Thousands of business officials across Ipswich have joined calls for the town's MP Tom Hunt to reconsider his opposition to a new city status bid - and for the borough to prepare a bid to send to the government.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said he had received 3,000 messages of support for the bid after publishing his thoughts on LinkedIn - and more were coming in.

All backed the city bid and most had come from businesses in the town.

He is now hoping to meet Mr Hunt to persuade him to back a city bid which he believes would attract millions of pounds worth of investment to the town.

Mr Clement said: "The Centre for Cities has previously reported that. 'UK city economies are at the heart of the national economy: they are 21% more productive than non-urban areas and host 72 per cent of all highly skilled jobs.

"So, this is not a badge on a wall we are talking about. It isn’t some vanity project. It is about long-term investment opportunities, jobs and wages. It really, really matters. Yet, a decision has apparently been made before the facts have been explained."

He said the Ipswich Central managers had been with a group of business leaders when they heard the bid would probably not go ahead.

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"Fair to say, our business colleagues were astonished, devastated, furious and really concerned about how a proud town like ours could even contemplate not demonstrating it’s future ambition."

He added: "On behalf of the town centre business community, please don’t rush into a quick decision, take the opportunity to talk to us, think long term and allow us to work with you so that we can decide a matter of such importance together.”

Tom Hunt

Tom Hunt said he was prepared to talk to Ipswich Central - but could not change his position on city status unless he was convinced it was supported by the town's residents. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Hunt said he would be happy to meet Ipswich Central to hear their concerns - but he would only change his mind on city status if he was convinced the majority of the people of the town supported the move.

He said: "What kind of MP would I be if I asked for people's views and then ignored them? I know they were not scientific but the two polls on the subject have shown most people against city status.

"It was wrong for the council to start talking about a bid without seeing whether the public backed it."

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