In the March edition of the Ipswich Flyer, as usual, Judy Terry has written and excellent article. It has the title of ‘Profit = Investment & Jobs for Ipswich’ I reprint it below
I was surprised at a recent SCC Cabinet meeting when the opposition Labour leader at the County Council started to denigrate the wonk being done both nationally and locally to bring jobs to the UK. in a lengthy tirade he damned the current necessary economic restraint and, not for the first time in a public debate demanded that nothing change, and for us to return to the very spend, spend, spend culture which is the permanent Labour fall-back position
A culture that brought two previous Labour governments and this country, to its knees; the third Labour government will be remembered for Gordon Brown’s ‘no more boom and bust’ mantra. A mantra which not only meant that many individuals hocked themselves up to the hilt, and house prices rose by more than 100% in their 13 years, but Labour’s borrowing exacerbated the financial problems, leaving the Conservatives – yet again – to restore financial probity and stability.
During this tirade, he talked about the lack of investment and new jobs coming to Ipswich, in particular, referring to the empty shops.
At this stage, I had to remind him that, in fact, Ipswich is doing pretty well, and no thanks to his party, when all Labour members of the Ipswich Planning Committee voted against the £70m investment on the redundant and blighted B & Q site in Grafton Way, near Stoke Bridge, which will bring 900 jobs to the town. Why did they vote against7 Because they like to refer to it as a Tesco development, when in fact it is a mixed scheme of housing, hotels, public car park (to which they wish to limit access) and also a Tesco!
Fortunately, Conservative members supported the proposal, the investment, and the jobs. We also SLD-ported the Little Waitrose in the Corn Exchange, and the new development at Cranes to bring a big Waitrose and John Lewis At Home, regenerating a landmark site which is an eyesore and, yes, bringing more jobs. Yet, again, Labour councillors were largely lukewarm and the economic portfolio holder talked about ‘profit’ being the motive for development, seemingly unaware that, without profit, even businesses like the John Lewis Partnership cannot
create new stores and employment.
As to empty shops. Yes, there are some, as there are in High Streets across the country – because retail is changing and town centres need to adapt to change. At a meeting I attended in London recently to discuss this very issue, the industry acknowledged that an attractive public realm (hence the investment by the Conservatives in Giles Circus, opposed by Labour) is vital, along with a vibrant cultural and leisure offer, from restaurants and bars to museums, galleries and theatres.
Tower Ramparts has recently been bought by a pension fund, and will be reinvigorated over the coming months; yet more investment in Ipswich is coming from the Government funded £22m ‘Ipswich fit for the 21st century’ project. Work is also starting on new housing schemes.
We have an increasingly successful university, attracting world-class teaching, and the business-led Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has already won, and is bidding for, significant multi-million pound government funds to support further investment across Suffolk.
Talking down the economy may suit Labour’s populist strategy, but it does the very people it now serves as the administration in Ipswich a disservice – because it doesn’t help business confidence. When the competition is fierce, as it is, if we are to bring fresh investment to the town and the county, we – the political leaders – have to be proactive, supportive and encouraging.
At the County, we are doing just that, focusing on key growth sectors which will provide the right investment opportunities, create jobs and bring profit.