In the eighteen years that I have lived near the railway station, I have been just across the river from a part of Commercial Road (“Ipswich Trading Centre”) which I can actually view on a daily basis. To begin with, it was occupied by B&Q, before they moved to two larger out-of-town sites.
B&Q was demolished as Tesco planned to build a full supermarket there, which they don’t have in the Borough of Ipswich, but this plan was abandoned during the economic downturn of 2007-10. It still lays largely empty as other planning applications have been rejected. This does not reflect well on the Borough’s “Economic Development” policy.
On a recent visit to Peterborough, I travelled from their railway station to the (pedestrianised) Cathedral Square without crossing a single road at ground level. The path took me under two narrow bridges (above left) to Cowgate (right)
with a turning option to the Nene Valley Railway heritage line. At Cowgate, with the Cathedral visibly ahead, there was the usual range of restaurants and a parish church, whilst the Square included shops and banks in either direction. I returned through the Queensgate Centre (left), which included an indoor footbridge over the main road, back to the station.
How could any new features in Ipswich simulate this situation in Peterborough, or indeed Chelmsford? What results could thus be achieved? Whilst we cannot practically move our station or Sailmakers, there is a Local Plan review and a Public Spaces Consultation starting on 16th January, details of which can be found at www.ipswich.gov.uk/currentconsultations.
When you first become a Councillor, apart from the great honour and excitement you, feel it changes your life completely. Suddenly, residents are asking you for help: some with very private and sad issues, others asking for help on matters that involve, perhaps, a whole area. When I was first elected, back in 2002, one of the biggest issues that came to light was a planning application for building on the area known as the Woodland off Mitre Way. This application and subsequent ones failed, which was purely because the residents came together to fight the applicant and even this year we have been successful again. In Holywells Ward we have had some really testing issues over the years: traffic lights at the top of Bishops Hill; the proposed large bridge so close to Cliff Lane and still ongoing; a proposal to put a supermarket where Holmes Oak Court is now right next to the Park; not cutting the grass along Nacton Road and Clapgate Lane and many more. So working together the Power of the People is a very successful tool.
Often services are improved in the area you represent because of your work with the community – pavements, grass cutting, road improvements including calming measures, parking issues, the need for more buses, bus shelters, more police the list is endless. Councillors just have to be persistent.
In Holywells Ward, Associated British Ports is very important. Not only does it employ local people it plays a big part in the community. This is also the case with the University and Suffolk New College and having students living amongst us is a great asset locally and for the rest of the town. It is also important to involve local businesses, restaurants and to promote local charities in their work in the town and in the Ward you represent.
I have to say over the 16 years I have been a Councillor I have found residents are keen to improve their local areas and to help where they can by taking part in community events. I have also found that the schools, churches, Friends Groups, charities, Community Interest Companies and businesses all pull together when there is a need and I have been very proud to help and to represent them and the residents in Holywells Ward.