Ipswich must prosper to help boost whole of Suffolk, say Suffolk’s rural MPs

Ipswich town centre

Ipswich town centre - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Suffolk as a whole will lose out unless Ipswich starts fulfilling its potential – and it is crucial the county town now secures more investment for major projects.

That’s the message from the six MPs representing rural Suffolk today, who have signed an open letter backing a ‘Vision for Ipswich’ and calling for more support for the town.

The letter has been sent to Mark Pendlington, the chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), as the organisation seeks backing for big changes in the town - including the redesign of the Cornhill and a potential new wet dock crossing between Cliff Quay and the West Bank.

It says: “We all know that for too long Ipswich has not fulfilled its full potential, something that is bad for Suffolk as much as it is bad for Ipswich.”

The MPs praise how the county council, Ipswich Borough Council, University Campus Suffolk, local chambers of commerce, Ipswich Central and Ipswich MP Ben Gummer have united under the LEP’s leadership to “change things for the better”.

They also back the ‘Vision for Ipswich’, which in particular aims to transform the town centre, including its retail offering.

“A strong and proud Ipswich is good for all of Suffolk and that is something all of us want to see,” the MPs add.

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It is signed by Dr Dan Poulter, Matthew Hancock, Dr Therese Coffey, Peter Aldous, James Cartlidge, and Jo Churchill.

West Suffolk MP Mr Hancock is also Paymaster General and said the success of Ipswich was vital, even for those from other districts.

He said: “I think it is so important for the whole county. It is very important to see investment going in to the town. Ben’s work to improve the town has been heroic and the rest of the MPs are delighted to support him.”

South Suffolk MP Mr Cartlidge saw the town as important because many of his constituents worked in Ipswich, shopped in Ipswich, or used its leisure facilities.

He said: “It is the county town and it is very important to many people across the whole of Suffolk. Ben is working really hard and it is to his great credit that we are seeing these great improvements underway in Ipswich.”

And Dr Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, added: “Ipswich is very important to everyone in the county so I was delighted to sign the letter. I have many constituents who live in the town and many others work there or use it on a daily basis.”

The letter was also welcomed by Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter. He said: “This is a very welcome endorsement of the vision we have for the town. The fact that the county’s MPs have all supported this letter shows how important a thriving Ipswich is for the whole of Suffolk.”

The news comes at the start of a crucial week for Ipswich as it seeks new investment on a number of fronts, according to Mr Pendlington.

He said the town could benefit on a number of different levels – starting at an international exhibition in London to mark the State Visit of the Chinese Premier, who is here to meet David Cameron and George Osborne to talk about big future investments in the UK.

Mr Pendlington said: “We want Ipswich to have a slice of that action, so we will be there talking to senior UK and global politicians and business leaders about how Ipswich connects world centres of research and development with London.”

Meanwhile, Employment Minister Priti Patel, is visiting Ipswich to open the biggest business-led Skills Show ever held in Suffolk which aims to boost employment opportunities and support business growth.

And businesses from across Suffolk will be out in force at the New Anglia iExpo event which will showcase our leading role in entrepreneurship and innovation in the UK.

Mr Pendlington added: “I will be joining local MP Ben Gummer and other Rail Taskforce leaders to meet Transport Minister Claire Perry, to make sure we take yet another significant step forward in our campaign for ‘Ipswich in 60’, so essential for putting Ipswich and Suffolk at the heart of our mobile and accessible economy in the East.

“We will also be updating all those involved in the rail campaign at a stakeholder meeting in the town on Friday.

“So this is a timely moment to celebrate success so far, to thank those who are working tirelessly to help, but above all to reinvigorate ourselves during this very busy week to making great things happen Ipswich.”

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