Will £25m from government transform Ipswich town centre?
PUBLISHED: 17:30 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:07 26 October 2019
Ipswich's Arras Square restoration could get government funding, Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick said during a visit to the town.
And with £25m on offer to the town from a new government fund, there could also be help to restore the Old Post Office in the Cornhill to make it more attractive for a new tenant.
Mr Jenrick was speaking during a visit to the town to promote the government's £3.6bn Towns Fund which is aimed at boosting 100 towns and small cities across the UK.
Local Conservative candidate Tom Hunt and representatives from Ipswich Central and the Chamber of Commerce showed Mr Jenrick some of the potential projects that the fund could boost in the town centre during the visit.
Mr Jenrick said: "We are going to be working with the council and with business leaders to form a board to administer the fund and we are looking to invest in projects that will boost the town."
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He said the board would be chaired by a business leader chosen by the council.
"We are particularly looking for infrastructure projects to help bring new life to town centres like this - and to encourage towns and small cities that have sometimes felt forgotten."
There has been some criticism that the list of towns eligible for funding contains a significant number of marginal constituencies - and it has been suggested that the list could have been rapidly drawn up as the government hopes to hold a general election. Mr Jenrick insisted the Towns Fund had been in the pipeline for some time. He said: "It is something that was being looked at last year - I was involved in the preparations when I was at the Treasury.
"It is aimed at communities across the country who have their own needs and we want to work with them bring new investment in."
Mr Hunt brought up the Old Post Office which is owned by the borough council and where restoration and repairs to the roof are due to start next year.
However, to bring it up to 21st century accessibility standards the building would need a modern lift installed - the main entrance is up a number of steps. Mr Jenrick was shown that, and the work on the Cornhill during a guided walk through the town centre.