Leaders of Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council pledge to work together and solve differences over town improvements

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, and Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council h

David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, and Mark Bee, leader of Suffolk County Council have pledged to work together - Credit: Archant

Council leaders in Suffolk are today insisting they will work together on improvements to the town following the open letter from Ipswich Star editor Terry Hunt in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper.

However it has emerged that a meeting to discuss the future of the town centre earlier this week was hampered by the absence of anyone from Ipswich Borough Council.

Mr Hunt wrote: “There is increasing frustration among people I speak to about the apparent inability, or perhaps it is unwillingness, of Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk County Council to work closely together for the future good of Ipswich.”

In response, county council leader Mark Bee has written a letter, reproduced here in full.

Borough council leader David Ellesmere preferred to make a short statement, saying: “We are very happy to work with Suffolk County Council and are making good progress in many areas.

“However, in two specific areas – the Cornhill regeneration project and digital information for car parks – we do need some clarity from the county about funding so we all know where we stand. I am seeking an urgent meeting with Mark to discuss this.”

Earlier this week the county council met with officials from Ipswich Central to discuss the vision of turning around the town centre.

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However no one from the borough was able to attend because Mr Ellesmere and economic development spokeswoman Carole Jones were at separate meetings in London – and chief executive Russell Williams had another engagement.

The meeting had originally been called by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, but an e-mail trail shows that Mr Ellesmere had told him he would not be able to attend within two minutes of getting the invitation.

Mr Ellesmere said: “I had no idea the meeting was going ahead. It had been called only about a week before and they knew we had long-standing engagements.

“We were waiting for them to come back with another time.

“We understood this was going to be a meeting about the Cornhill and (we) were very anxious to be there.”

Although the borough was not at the meeting, Mr Bee hoped representatives from the authority would be able to come along to future discussions.

He said: “The door is open to Ipswich Borough Council and other partners to join with us and Ipswich Central to offer expertise and influence in helping to cultivate a programme of redevelopment within the centre of Ipswich.

“A strong Ipswich is an essential part of a strong Suffolk.”