Ipswich MP: Why small things like potholes and hedges are a big deal
- Credit: House of Commons
Being a Member of Parliament never comes with a set manual as to how best to represent your constituents.
Many MPs often ignore smaller issues, which they may see as beneath them or not deserving of their time. They will only focus on the bigger picture issues in their constituency and leave many things for lower levels of government or others to tackle.
I do not see myself as one of those individuals.
Many of you will probably have had a letter from me at some point. These letters to residents often focus on smaller issues that might not initially seem to be part of the Member of Parliament’s remit.
These issues can range from potholes to pavements, from hedge cuttings to badly kept public spaces - but in my mind, fixing key issues like this play a major part in the wider picture.
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Pride in where you live plays such a big part of the psyche of the town. It can also have such a negative effect on trust in both local and national government if these issues are not addressed.
When unsightly issues - like fly tipping or unkept parts of public space - dominate the eyeline, then it’s incredibly difficult to feel the sense of pride that we all should.
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If these issues are left for too long, if the damage done is not fixed then there is a risk that the sense of community can diminish and our value for our streets and our area also declines.
When reaching out to residents about these small issues, my aim is to try to restore pride from the bottom up and to restore faith in government that might have been lost at both a local and national level.
There is already a really strong sense of community in Ipswich and I want to help it grow, so we continue to look after our neighbours, join in with community programmes and place value in keeping our neighbourhoods clean and tidy.
I hope that with every small letter and with every follow up, we can begin to piece together the sense of community many feel we have lost at times.
I know these issues are often small, but they can have such a significant effect on an area's sense of pride. If disrepair is the first impression of the many visitors we have to Ipswich, then not only could it give them the completely wrong impression of what Ipswich is and who we are, but it can also breed its own problems internally.
If the residents who live or move to Ipswich don’t value it, then anti-social behaviour and a disregard for community assets could possibly follow.
If this is encouraged to flourish, then we are fighting a losing battle that will only see Ipswich degrade as time passes.
In my mind, it is through these small actions that we can slowly start to rebuild any lost pride.
Focusing on these small things does not mean I do not have a wider and larger vision for Ipswich.
The success of my lobbying in bringing in £25million from the government’s Towns Fund will make a huge difference to the redevelopment of much of Ipswich.
I want to continue to see further traffic resolutions, following the success of the Orwell Bridge variable speed limit, and I am always looking for further ways to support the growth of Ipswich.
In my role on the Education Select Committee in parliament, I am helping to shape key reforms for our schools and I am a very strong advocate of the Freeport transition of Felixstowe Port - hopefully delivering over 10,000 new jobs to the area.
I want to see a drive for upskilling and new jobs in Ipswich, attracting more growth into the area. I have a wide vision for Ipswich, and I am determined to drive it forward as your Member of Parliament.
I do not believe it is the case that an MP should focus on either big or small issues but rather both, as they are not disconnected from each other. It’s not either-or.
However, I cannot stress enough how highly pride in our community and having a shared vision for Ipswich plays in the collective mind of the town.
I see Ipswich residents as deeply practical people who want to see tangible differences driven forward by their MP. They want to buy into a larger picture and though these small projects do not carry the same weight as a £25m grant, they are noticed and residents do care about it.
I also see these small issues that I can directly influence as a way to show residents that my office door is open. I am here to help with whatever issue you may have, no matter the severity.
I want to continue to be a visible and accessible MP and I have found that in tackling issues such as pavement trip hazards, I am able to open dialogue with residents on key and much bigger issues.
These issues are obviously many and frequently occurring. I have seen in the past that some politicians appear too scared to grapple with these fundamental issues regarding the sense of community or wider vision of the town.
I can only think that this might be through a fear of failure. There are so many issues that it is impossible to achieve complete resolution of all so many in turn might choose things that maybe difficult to measure or none at all.
For me, I am not scared to tackle the big fundamental issues about the future of our town.
I know there will be difficulties and challenges along the way but through small projects, placing value and improving the sense of community, we can open the door for wider projects and make Ipswich into the town we want it to be.