Real concerns underpin town’s political squabble

Judy Terry

Judy Terry

Judy Terry is one of the most “tribal” politicians at Grafton House – she is one of the Tories who can really wind up the ruling Labour group.

However it would be unwise for those in power at the borough to dismiss all the concerns she has raised about the lack of vision for the town simply because they have come from her.

She was expressing an opinion I have heard several time by business owners and managers in the town centre over the last few months.

One issue the current administration would do well to address is the perception that it is too inward-looking, that its efforts are concentrated on doing the best for the people who actually live in the town – and not with cementing the town’s place in Suffolk or the region as a whole.

Of course the two issues should not be mutually exclusive – but if you look at Ipswich compared with other major towns and cities there is an image problem that needs to be addressed.

The borough’s policy on building new council homes is absolutely right – and its support for public transport within the town and for festivals to appeal to local residents is great.

But I do wonder whether the town does enough to attract people who live further afield.

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Ipswich is never going to rival Norwich as a regional centre, but the town really ought to look at how that has really established itself at the centre of Norfolk life.

A more realistic ambition would be for Ipswich to achieve what Bury St Edmunds has done. Bury is a quarter of the size of Ipswich but it has a vibrant shopping centre that many believe gives this town a run for its money because it is able to attract thousands of shoppers from outside the town every day.

It is not ridiculous to imagine Ipswich could do the same. With the Waterfront, the historic buildings, the region’s largest theatre and a superb town centre park it has masses going for it.

But it needs a real vision to exploit these great foundations – and to knit them together as a single offer that can attract the people who live outside its boundaries.

And if you get more of them coming to spend their money in Ipswich, in the individual shops of St Peter’s Street and Fore Street, in the cafes on the Waterfront and in Christchurch Park then that is good for everyone.

And just because your political arch-enemy makes that suggestion, it doesn’t mean that the message should be completely ignored.