Why we're improving parks and public safety in Ipswich

The grass at Chantry Park in Ipswich may become a bit soggy if it does rain Picture: SARAH LUCY BROW

Chantry Park in Ipswich could see many improvements - Credit: Archant

Last week I wrote about some of the measures we are taking in our budget – such as cutting council tax for people on low incomes and keeping brown bins free of charge – to help Ipswich residents cope with the Cost of Living Crisis.

This week I want to talk about some of the other improvements we’re planning to make right across Ipswich over the next year.

Many people gained a whole new appreciation of Ipswich’s parks during lockdown when they were our go to place for taking the limited exercise we were allowed.

This led to more wear and tear than normal, so we are investing in a programme of enhanced maintenance with new replacement boardwalks, benches and noticeboards.

When out in a park for any extended time it’s not unusual to need to spend a penny, but many of the toilets in our parks are quite frankly a bit grotty so we have also started a programme of installing new eco-friendly composting toilets.

These toilets not only use less energy and are easier to keep clean but, because they don’t rely on existing water and sewerage connections, can also be located in better areas which will be less prone to anti-social behaviour.

Our priority will be replacing existing facilities but, by removing the need to install expensive utilities, we may be able to look at installing toilets in parks that have never had them before.

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One perennially popular feature of our parks is their play areas. Since lockdown we have installed new improved play areas in Christchurch Park, Dumbarton Road and Alexandra Park which have proved a great hit with families.

We are now planning a dramatic expansion of our play area investment programme which will see play areas across the town improved over the next five years. We will shortly be announcing the first play areas to benefit.

We have also set aside £1.5m to back a major Heritage Lottery Fund application for Chantry Park so we can make the same improvements Christchurch and Holywells parks have seen.

With Labour-run Ipswich Borough Council, Ipswich’s fabulous parks will go from strength to strength.

Our second big area of investment is in improvements to public safety. 

Ipswich Borough Council maintains a network of over 300 CCTV cameras across Ipswich which are vital in the fight against crime. We have been improving these cameras over the last few years, so they provide much clearer pictures than the blurry videos from previous generations of cameras.

We have been successful in winning funding from the Home Office to expand our network which will see seven new cameras installed in the Norwich Road area.

We are also investing in five new mobile CCTV cameras that can be deployed anywhere in the town where there are crime or anti-social behaviour hotspots.

We have produced a comprehensive plan to help improve the safety of women at night across Ipswich, but the Home Office has so far failed to fund it. We believe that this work is so important that we are setting aside £20,000 of our own money to fund key elements of the plan.

We know how unsafe people feel when they are out at night and the streetlights are turned off. Because of this, we will continue to keep the small number of streetlights that Ipswich Borough Council owns on all night.

It is now time for Conservative-run Suffolk County Council to follow suit and turn their much larger network of streetlights on all night.

After their recent upgrade to LED lights, the County’s lights are now using much less energy and costing far less to run so arguments about climate change and finances don’t hold water anymore – the safety of residents must now become the overriding concern.

And, as I’ve written before, we also need Suffolk’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner to play his part in improving public safety by ensuring there are enough police in Ipswich to maintain a visible police presence in our town.

We specifically want to see permanent police foot patrols in the town centre to deter crime and anti-social behaviour and make people feel safer.

- David Ellesmere is the Labour leader of Ipswich Borough Council.