Our county town deserves rosy report from think tank

Ipswich is an attractive town.

Ipswich is an attractive town. - Credit: Archant

When I first studied the Centre for Cities report, and its findings about Ipswich, I was rather surprised by the glowing picture it painted of the town.

I could understand its high position in the league table for broadband access – it was one of the first major urban centres to be cabled up in the 1990s.

And the low carbon dioxide emissions per head was a statistic I had seen before in a report from the Office of National Statistics.

However, the other three “positives” were slightly more surprising.

As a local newspaper journalist, I tend to hear from people most often when something has gone wrong with their lives or just when they want to have a moan.

So to find that Ipswich came out at the top of the “Life Satisfaction” league table was something of a surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the town has a great deal going for it. I was born in Suffolk and have lived in Ipswich since the mid-1980s, so if I didn’t think it was pretty good I’d have scarpered years ago!

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If you look at the town, at what it has to offer (parks, Waterfront, theatre, cinema, improving restaurants etc) it’s not too bad.

And when you add to that the easy access to London, glorious East Anglian countryside and coast within an hour’s drive, and easy journeys to other historic towns and cities like Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge and Norwich, then it’s really got a lot going for it as a place to live. And when you talk to some more recent arrivals, as I did at UCS when the report arrived, you discover that those who are seeing Ipswich with the fresh look of a new arrival are often more positive than those who have lived here for years.

Long-term residents might get fed up with people banging on about the Waterfront – but talk to people who came to Ipswich to study at UCS and you’ll hear just how positive they feel about this part of town.

The high level of employment is a plus – but it should not deflect us from the fact there are still a significant number of people needing jobs. And one finding I did think surprising was that Ipswich is one of the fastest-growing “cities” in Britain.

To be honest it doesn’t feel as if there is building going on all over the town. Yes, there is the new Genesis development on the west bank and the borough is building new homes on Bader Close.

But the Waterfront flats are still stalled . . . and I shan’t really believe the town is growing significantly until work resumes on the “Wine Rack”.

I’m not really surprised that some moaners have taken to the comment section of our website to express how terrible they feel the town is.

The retail offer is not as good as in some other similar places – but part of the attraction of Ipswich as a centre is the potential to improve.

If more people are persuaded that it’s a good place to live, then that will bring more investment.

And the fact is you won’t please everyone. I’m sure some people wouldn’t be satisfied if they were provided with gold-plated taps which produced vintage champagne whenever they wanted it!

If the moaners spent just a little time looking for positives about the town, you never know – they might just find some in Christchurch Park or the Waterfront!

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