Investment in Ipswich, Investing in Suffolk.

Really pleased that the news has been revealed that the Homes and Community Agency are helping to support the Development of the empty ‘wine rack’ building on Ipswich’s Waterfront officially it’s called Regatta Quay but its known as the wine rack for obvious reasons and is rather a symbol of the last property crash and so an important building to finally see developed.  The Agency will invest £15M and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP) of which I am a Director as Leader of Suffolk County Council, is investing £5M from our Growing Places Fund.  These are commercial loans and will be repaid with interest but they get things moving.

The work of the NALEP and more details on the announcement can be found here

www.newanglia.co.uk

Sometimes Ipswich seems a long way for Row Heath but battling for investment and growing our economy is vitally important.  As Leader of the County Council I have been on recorded as stating there is no such thing as a Stronger Suffolk without a Stronger Ipswich, the development of this icon structure on the waterfront alongside the £100M investment being made with Foster and Partners designing the Upper Orwell Crossing there is a determination for Ipswich to become the Powerhouse of Suffolk’s economy.  This benefits us here in the west of Suffolk because the more money that is generated in Ipswich through Business rate growth, shortly, will mean more money for the County Council to spend on vital services in our community.

We want to grow our economy here in West Suffolk as well but Ipswich is uniquely placed to benefit from an overheating London economy as it’s an hour from the heart of the city and we are working to make sure we capitalise on that geography. That’s why I sort and campaigned for there to be one Board to pull together all of the many, many plans I was presented with when I became Leader of the Council two years ago.  Today there is one vision one board, its called Ipswich Vision and I have lead Suffolk’s attendance at the principle Land and Property investment exhibition in London each year called MIPIM, as we seek to put Ipswich and Suffolk on the investment map.

You can read more about the Ipswich Vision Board here

www.newanglia.co.uk/…/major-players-come-together-to-agree-a-vision-for-ipswich/

The way local government is financed is complex but it is changing, I want the economy of Suffolk to be a powerhouse of growth with high value jobs and growing companies to be based here.  In the next few years the stronger our economy, the more money we will have to spend of protecting frontline services for the most vulnerable in our society. This is what we mean by Caring and Campaigning.  Unlike the Lib Dems and Labour who would spend all the money we have earmarked for investing in our economy and growth, they would simply spend it now, not making the savings we need to make and then as they always do when the money runs out, throw their hands up and demand more of your hard-earned money in Council Tax. We believe in investing is Suffolk’s growth and this coupled with a relentless drive to make the back office of the public sector in Suffolk more efficient is how we will deliver for Suffolk over the next 10 years.  We are planning how we go about this and develop a blueprint of growth and efficiency.

New trains for all!

Abellio imageGreat news yesterday that the new rail franchise confirms Abellio Greater Anglia be responsible for delivering rail services in Suffolk and throughout East Anglia over the next nine years, I said in a press release: “Having a commitment to deliver both Ipswich in 60 and Norwich in 90 as part of the new franchise award is a significant achievement. Its inclusion is a testament to the patient, persistent campaigning and real team work, particularly from MPs Ben Gummer and Chloe Smith, Mark Pendlington and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, local councillors and members of the public”.

Like the Oscars there are so many people to thank but throughout the key messages of new rolling stock, the punchy Ipswich in 60 and Norwich in 90 campaign and the need to better link Ipswich and Cambridge, Cambridge to Norwich have all been well made and are reflected in the detail of the new franchise.

So now Abellio must can get on with ordering new trains and improving the journey times and their punctuality.  They must improve the connects to Lowestoft and in partnership improve services to Kings Lynn and make the stations nicer places to be and improve the car parking capacity so people can arrive at stations and park. Councils and the NALEP for our part must also delivery and help invest in sorting out the bottle neck of Ely and some of the single track sections that so hamper capacity.

Not everyone is pleased with Abellio winning the contact and a number of people have said its reward for failure over the past 4 years and for anyone who daily has to use the Norwich and Ipswich trains I can completely understand their frustration but to be very fair to Abellio until they were awarded this franchise of 9 years, beyond a little window dressing, how could they invest in new trains costing billions? Some of the problems on the lines, as we all know, are simply beyond their control and the rolling stock they inherited is so old.  I can remember when I first used to get the train from Stowmarket to London in the mid 80’s the rolling stock was not exactly new then and some of it is the same stock!

This is the beginning of a huge challenge for Abellio Greater Anglia.  Over the next nine years they need to make good on the promises they have made. They make some very clear commitments to speed up journey times and significantly improve on what customers currently experience, including introducing new trains. I know from conversations yesterday, we all will continue to work with and challenge Abellio Greater Anglia and Network Rail to ensure Suffolk’s residents see the improvement in services we all want and frankly for what we pay to travel, deserve.

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