Ipswich: How would you improve our town?

IPSWICH: It’s time for you to have a say on the future of YOUR town.

Our Beacon Conference has captured the imagination of everyone who lives or works in Ipswich – and now we want you to have an input into the process.

We need you to tell us how you think the town could be improved – to make it more attractive to visitors and to make it a place more people want to live in.

A great deal of effort is being put into trying to link the Waterfront with the traditional town centre – to encourage more people to make the short walk from the main shopping area to the attractive Wet Dock.

But how should that be done? And is it realistic to expect more shoppers to visit cafes, pubs and restaurants beside the water?

Ipswich also has some of the finest urban parks in the country. Christchurch Park extends right to the edge of the town centre and Alexandra Park is very near the Waterfront and Suffolk New College.

Does the town exploit these enough? What special events would encourage you to make more use of the town’s wonderful parkland?

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We would like you to send back these coupons – so that we can get an idea of what our readers think about improvements to the town by this time next week.

Then we will be able to let you know how those who really care about Ipswich see the future of our town.

Ipswich has huge potential. It is just over an hour away from the heart of the City of London and has the glorious Suffolk countryside and coast on its doorstep.

It has great links with high-tech industries with Adastral Park on its edge at Martlesham and superfast broadband links.

Silicon Fen around Cambridge is just an hour away on the A14.

So let us know how you think the town can exploit these huge advantages.

The result of this survey will be fed into the next Beacon Conference that is due to be held in Ipswich in July.

Just fill in the poll questions on this page – and log on to our website to leave comments to run with this story – all comments will be moderated before publication.

People and organisations across the town will be showing how much they value the town with the new I Love Ipswich design which is starting to appear around the town.

It will be appearing on vehicles operated by Ipswich Buses and on tickets you buy for your journeys on them.

It is being adopted by several businesses and other organisations as a way of boosting the profile of the town – and within a few weeks it should be available on car stickers and badges as well.

Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson said the campaign was vital for the town.

He said: “The more people that come to Ipswich, the more people that will be using our buses!

“We think this is a great idea and we are all in favour of it. We are having ticket rolls printed with the I Love Ipswich message and we are looking at how it can be included on the buses themselves.”

Successful campaigns like this have been run by communities across the country – and have helped to boost areas that have not had a great profile in the past. See the Ipswich Star in future weeks to find out how you can show how much you value your town.

IPSWICH needs the support of the county to help develop it as a genuine regional centre.

And Suffolk residents who live outside the county town should give it another look as it continues its transformation at the start of the 21st century.

That was the message that emerged from the first Beacon Ipswich conference, aimed at boosting the profile of Suffolk’s county town.

Hosted by the Star and town MP Ben Gummer the conference brought together business leaders, community representatives, and local politicians and officers from across Suffolk.

Mr Gummer told more than 100 guests at the conference at UCS on Ipswich Waterfront that the town and county needed to come together.

He said: “I am sick and tired about people being so negative about this town. The message that has to come from this conference is that Ipswich needs the county and Suffolk needs its county town to be successful.”

The MP said the town had evolved in the past, from being largely reliant on the port for its prosperity to being a major manufacturing centre to being an important financial base.

However over recent years it had struggled to make its presence felt. He said in many ways the make-up of Ipswich reflected that of the country as a whole.

Its one difference was the lower than average number of 18-24 year-olds who lived in the town – and the development of its university and college was vital to address that.

County council leader Mark Bee represents Beccles, at the opposite end of Suffolk, but he said he had always felt a close affinity with Ipswich.

He delighted the audience by telling them that while many of his school friends had grown up supporting Norwich City, he had always been a fan of the boys in blue.

He said the county council would do all it could to ensure Ipswich can grow, and said there was much to be optimistic about.

Mr Bee said: “Ipswich has a great deal going for it. A fantastic mixture of large and small businesses, a strong financial and insurance sector, and a great work-force.

“It benefits from being in a prime location, with access to the port of Felixstowe and the continent, and close proximity to the City of London.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said his authority had developed a budget for next year that would encourage new jobs in the town.

But it was vital that its positives should be seen more widely. “The Borough Council is rightly proud of our town and its many achievements,” he said.

“In recent years we have seen unprecedented growth; a new university; a regenerated Waterfront; a rebuilt Suffolk New College and Suffolk One; improved sports facilities; and the establishment of Ipswich as a cultural hub.

“We have an improving retail offer, thanks to a successful partnership with Ipswich Central. Just recently we have seen Waitrose open in the Corn Exchange and we look forward to a second larger store and a John Lewis at Home on the old Cranes site next year.

“Too many people find it easy to knock Ipswich but we need to tell everyone about the good things that are happening here.”

The conference was the first in a series of rolling conferences that are aimed at improving the profile of the town.

Star editor Nigel Pickover emphasised that this had to be the start of a process.

He said: “What this conference isn’t is a pleasant, well-meaningful, talking shop. It is a gathering which will not be stood down after one meeting with no results.

“The more and more I got into this conference idea, the more I saw some great visions for Ipswich – I know we share many of them.”