Ben Gummer’s Real New Year Message.

Here’s ben’s last Morning Evening Star column of 2011

2011: Getting Ready for Growth in 2012

We all want the same things for our town: investment, jobs and growth. Right from the beginning I have said that key to that is making sure Ipswich has the best schools, training and educational opportunities, road and rail links to the rest of the country and beyond, and public and private services that attract people to invest and live in our town. We have made significant progress in each of these areas this year. 2011 was a year of consolidation. What we need now is to see is delivery.


Just in the last few weeks we have had news that Waitrose and John Lewis will be opening on the old Cranes site on the Nacton Road, which will pay for the clearance of the rest of this large area for new business buildings. Then in the last couple of days Tesco won its legal fight to build a huge new store in Grafton Way on the old and derelict B&Q site: there will be a hotel and apartments as well. In the town centre Waitrose is opening a convenience store in a few weeks time; Tower Ramparts has been purchased by a new owner keen to invest; and the scheme of new office and restaurant space in Lower Brook Street, linking the town centre with the Waterfront, is close to getting the go-ahead.

So all being well – of which more later – we should see the cranes pop up again across Ipswich in 2012. On these and a number of other sites we will see over a hundred million pounds invested, concrete on land that has lain derelict for many years. I have played a bit part in helping to pull this off: introducing developers, talking to banks and chivvying investors. The aim for me in 2012 is to do more of the same. We need to see work resume on the remaining Waterfront buildings and new student accommodation for the university.

I have greater influence over the road and rail links that will bring further investment to our town. For years we have talked about upgrading the A14, better rail links to London and the Midlands, and investment in the basic infrastructure of our town. Now it is happening, despite these hard times: hundreds of millions for the A14; £35 million for rail freight connections in Ipswich; £21 million for new bus stations, traffic management systems and improved pedestrian and cycle routes in the town.

But we need much, much, more. 2012 will be about building on this excellent start. We need to get the government to give proper commitments on improving our terrible rail service and I want to see upgrades to the A12. These will be my focus in the year ahead.


All this investment means jobs – thousands of them – in what is a challenging economic climate. Some of our best businesses are recruiting already and I expect more to do so should the French and Germans get their act together. But we will only ensure long term and sustainable jobs if we can attract and keep the best employers to our town. That means building more than good roads and rail links, fancy shops and good public services. Most of all it means building the best possible workforce. Which means investing in education and skills.

By this time next year almost every school in Ipswich will have converted to being an academy. Already it is clear how this process is focusing minds. Ipswich Academy, born out of Holywells nine months ago, is showing a scale of ambition that is entirely new. And across the town I see primary schools, week in week out, that are aiming higher than they have done for years. Both the university and the college want to excel at what they do. So this is a good foundation on which to build. I will do what I can to help all these educators deliver the kind of learning that our children will need if they are to be able to compete with their peers not just in Europe but in China, India and Brazil.

Speaking of buildings, one in particular – Chantry High School – needs to be redone. My main aim for 2012 is to see this happen.

Investment plus jobs should equal growth. But there is a glitch. Although the government’s economic policies have ensured that we are not in the position of Greece, what happens in 2012 depends in large part on the fate of the Eurozone. In Westminster I will continue to support the government in cutting the deficit, which has delivered historically low interest rates and the confidence of people who lend money to the UK. But if the Euro crashes, all bets are off.

That said, much of what we need to grow is on our own power. Ipswich, for too long, has tended to look down at its feet. Now we need to aim high. We must strive to be the most dynamic town in Britain, a beacon for others, because only with that scale of ambition will we begin to achieve.

This sounds very American, I know. But we need to be a bit more brash if we are going to win. We must want the best schools, the finest town centre, the quickest travel connections, and we must work hard – fight hard if necessary – until we get them.

More has been achieved for Ipswich in 2011 than in many years. It shows what can be done. Let’s now get on and do it.

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9 Responses to Ben Gummer’s Real New Year Message.

  1. No Ben it doesn’t sound American but pure nonsense exactly the same as all our other MP’s this town has been inflicted with. This town doesn’t need to grow, it needs to shrink. It has a road system that is already congested beyond belief because too many people are living/visiting this town. Ipswich is a place people live and the wishes of business people who live elsewhere to expand this town is actually killing the town. I have lived here for 69 years and during the last 20 years this town has been in decline due to outsiders coming here to make a buck or a mark on their C.V. Ben is rapidly falling into line with all the other politicians that have infested our home. His last letter to me may have been scribbled rapidly without forethought but he claimed to support the flood barrier across the river to stop Wherstead Road being flooded. That is complete nonsense as the flood barrier is being built on both sides of the river. It would only need to be built on the Wherstead Road side to protect that area. In actuality the flood barrier is being paid for by tax payers to allow the island site of the dock to be turned into a gated community and that is definitely not in the interests of Ipswich people.


    • I’m always up for a bit of Ben bashing myself, but this is bizarre..

      On the one hand you say the claim that the barrier will stop flooding on Wherstead Road is “complete nonsense” and on the other you say that “It would only need to be built on the Wherstead Road side to protect that area”. If it is being built on both sides rather than one it will still protect the area.

      As far as the desire to stop Ipswich growing economically you do have allies, and they’re currently running the council.

      • I have opposed the flood barrier scheme since it was announced years before Ben became our MP. I pointed out to Ben the scheme was simply to enable ABP to fully develop the island site of the dock. I also pointed out to Ben the lead shareholder of ABP is a large bank which pays much more than the £70million we are paying to protect their property in bonuses each year. I also pointed out the claims being made supporting the flood barrier are false and it is actually the legal responsibility of ABP to maintain the docks and the Rights of Way around the dock and new cut as ABP owns these. Many Ipswich people have warned IBC about the Ipswich Dock Acts which state this but IBC and the local newspapers appear to have colluded to stifle any mention of the Ipswich Dock Acts. IBC merrily gave away our money and land to ABP regardless of the law and in questionable ways. The RoW were unlawfully blocked and I had to twice fight this in the High Court. Unfortunately I was only able to save some routes and not the main one at that which goes through the island site. Ben replied to me in an unusually unthinking way stating the flood barrier was not to protect ABP property so it could be developed but to protect residents of Wherstead Road. As already mentioned Ben usually replies thoughtfully and I concluded he was just having a bad day. It doesn’t require us to pay to build a wall on both sides of the river to protect Wherstead Road. If the flood barrier was meant to protect Wherstead Road it only needed to be on the Wherstead Road side of the river and certainly wouldn’t entail us paying for a new lock gate either. The flood barrier is in fact unlawful as is the present flood wall on the new cut which I am about to take SCC CEO to the Magistrates Court over. A planning application to remove this unlawful construction has already been lodged by a government department but only after the equally unlawful flood barrier has been built.


  2. So what are your views on Ipswich Transport for the 21st century then Pete? Flood barrier would protect Wherstead Road

    • Stephen says:

      The reality is that Ipswich is still, and looks to be for the near future, constrained by a Borough boundary that has scarcely moved since the last Diamond Jubilee. Our town is already larger, in a contiguous sense, than it is officially. Real Ipswich does not need to expand it’s population greatly but the achievement of the economic development aims fought for over six years is most welcome.

    • The scheme you mention is I believe another tick box exercise which even SCC does not take seriously. Now an exhibition has been laid on SCC have complied with their obligation to consult and they can carry on regardless of our wishes. The flood barrier will not protect Wherstead Road as it only covers some of the road anyhow but what it does do is allow further over development of the flood plain to such an extent the main threat of flooding (fluvial by the way) could cause Wherstead Road to be flooded from New Cut West where the flood wall is to be removed. Unfortunately most folks are in the dark about what is proposed for Ipswich because the Local Development Framework Plan cannot be followed by the average person. It is a full time job over a period of years for a number of town planners. Indeed I was not even allowed to address the Inspector and as far as I am aware she was not told of the Ipswich Dock Acts nor the Rights of Way that will impede any development. There was no definitive map of RoW so the planners don’t even know where they are.


  3. Pete, if they only built the flood barier on the Wherstead Road side, can you tell us where all the excess water would go instead?

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