MP Tom Hunt still opposed to city bid after new figures released
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has emphasised his determination not to back city status for Ipswich while the majority of constituents who contact him on the subject are against the proposal.
He said that while he had now read and understood the finding of the Ipswich Central survey which showed that most working-age people backed city status, he felt the views of all ages had equal merit.
He said: "I read the survey findings with great interest. I have made clear that for me to back City status I need to see that there is a majority in the town for the change.
"This survey finds that 46% are against city status and 41% are in favour. In addition to this I carried out my own poll that, though far from scientific, did show that 66% were against and 34% were in favour. The Ipswich Star online poll, also unscientific, showed that 70% were opposed to City status.
"I must add that I know very little about the survey carried out by Ipswich Central. I wasn't aware it was taking place. The sample certainly does seem to be representative of the population but I'm unsure about the exact nature of the questions asked and how the telephone conversations were approached.
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"The reality here is that we will be going up against many other places where there is much clearer public support and this is something that the Government will take into account.
"I note that different age groups responded differently to the question. But my own view is that all Ipswich residents should have an equal say on this.
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"Some of the comments I've seen issued in the media following the publication of the results seem to imply that somehow the views of more elderly residents, who are more likely to be against city status, count for less than younger residents. I disagree strongly with this.
"I am not blind to some of the benefits that could come about as a result of city status. And I respect the views of those who are pushing it. It could well be the case that in future city status is something we could go for.
"Clearly the view of businesses matter a great deal and Ipswich Central is a very important stakeholder. However, it is not the only stakeholder.
"City status is about many things, and this includes our identity as a place and this is the reason why I think its so important for us to listen to all voices across the Town. Ipswich Central have the responsibility to listen to and represent their members, and they do seem to do this very well.
"I however, have the responsibility to listen to and represent over 75,000 constituents. On this matter, and it is for this reason, that I feel unable to back city status as I do not have a clear sense that it is what the majority of my constituents want.
"I had a very productive meeting with Terry Baxter and Paul Clement yesterday from Ipswich Central and I look forward to working with them closely over the coming months to support town centre businesses."