Regional minister visits Ipswich
HER first visit to Ipswich proved a real eye-opener for newly-appointed minister for East Anglia Barbara Follett.The Stevenage MP visited Suffolk's county town during a day of engagements in Suffolk, and was left speechless by the developments at the Waterfront.
By Paul Geater
HER first visit to Ipswich proved a real eye-opener for newly-appointed minister for East Anglia Barbara Follett.
The Stevenage MP visited Suffolk's county town during a day of engagements in Suffolk, and was left speechless by the developments at the Waterfront.
She said: “I knew there was a lot of development around the Waterfront, but until you see what is happening here you can't really get an idea of the scale of what is happening.
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“I hadn't realised that Ipswich Waterfront now resembled Cannes or Nice with all the yachts in the marina and things like that. It is wonderful to see what is happening there.”
Mrs Follett said her role was “ambassadorial” acting as a link between central government in Whitehall and Westminster and the region.
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She said: “I'm not actually responsible for decisions about region such as new roads or transport investment, but I can take the views of the region to the heart of government - and explain government policy to the region.”
Her responsibility includes the six counties of the government's eastern region - Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
She accepted there were major differences within the region - it's a long way both geographically and culturally from Watford to Woodbridge.
“There are differences, but I don't know that the differences are as great as they once were as the influence of London extends.
“That is something that has been happening for centuries and it is continuing - but there has to be care not to destroy what makes places like Suffolk and Norfolk so special,” she said.
One of the major challenges facing rural areas in the future is the ageing population.
People liked to move to the countryside when they neared retirement and this could put a strain on services which had to be provided by people living in towns.
“There is a balance we have to achieve there - for instance we want to provide more homes but don't want to just cover the countryside in little boxes and destroy its character,” she said.