Ben Gummer’s Positive Vision For Ipswich In 2020
For too long Suffolk schools have not been good enough. Ben has worked hard to change this already – supporting good head teachers, bringing Teach First to Ipswich, and winning the money to rebuild Ipswich Academy and Chantry Academy, as well as classrooms across the town.
But children in Ipswich still do not receive the education they deserve: our schools are improving, however, some are still under performing compared to others elsewhere in England. Ben will work tirelessly over the next five years to make Ipswich schools some of the best in the country. It’s a hard task but Ben believes that if Ipswich is to thrive, it must be done.
Our train service is not good enough, that is why in early in 2015, Ben promised to secure investment for our railways and pledged to improve the service between Ipswich and London. Since being re-elected in May 2015 Ben, alongside Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, has been leading the rail taskforce which has been lobbying the government for the investment the Eastern Region needs.
In August 2016 the new rail franchise was announced, pledging £1.4 billion of investment in the East. By 2021, Abellio Greater Anglia will have replaced its entire rolling stock with state of the art trains made in Derby and Switzerland, services will include free Wi-Fi and trains will be 10% faster between Ipswich and London. Two trains every day will make the all-important Ipswich to London in 60 minutes and there will be 33,000 more seats arriving into London Liverpool Street during the morning peak.
Now that upgrades to the rolling stock have been secured, Network Rail must also fulfil their end of the bargain and provide investment in the tracks. Ben is continuing to push the government and Network Rail to provide this.
In his Six Point Plan for Ipswich, Ben promised to secure the funds to build a Wet Dock Crossing across the Orwell. Once re-elected, Ben created the Wet Dock Crossing task force to drive forward the project. In late 2015 a detailed business case, produced by the task force, was submitted to the Chancellor and in March – after lobbying from Ben – the Chancellor announced that the Wet Dock Crossing would be given the go-ahead.
Since then a design competition has taken place and the newly named Upper Orwell Crossing are due to be completed around 2021.
The Upper Orwell Crossings will do two things: Firstly, it will relieve traffic around the Star Lane gyratory by creating an alternative route across the Orwell. Secondly, it will unlock the Island site for development creating new high value jobs for Ipswich.
Ben will continue fight for a Northern relief road – it will require large amounts of money, however, other towns have successfully campaigned for similar funds and Ipswich has proven that it can attract investment.
Ben has a simple ambition for Ipswich: a good and sustainable job for everyone and a good affordable home for all. Since Ben was re-elected in 2015, unemployment in Ipswich has continued to fall. Youth Unemployment is now more than 80% lower than it was in 2010 and overall unemployment is just under two-thirds lower than figures in 2010. We are now, by most definitions, at full employment in Ipswich.
But Ipswich needs homes; one of Ben’s first votes in parliament was to ease planning rules to help development and to allow councils to build council houses again. As a result, 222 new council homes will have been started in the Borough – the largest programme for 50 years. But this is a small start: we need to build many more houses of all types – especially affordable family homes – if everyone in Ipswich is to have a good home.
On the doorsteps and in surgeries, residents regularly bring up the decline of our town centre as their main concern. Before 2015, Ben worked hard to win the money to start renovations – new paving and signs, new bus stations and electronic displays – but much, much more needed to be done. Since being re-elected in May 2015, Ben has been working hard to turn our town around.
For the first time all the major players in the town have come together and signed the Ipswich Vision, a document designed by businesses, which aims to transform our Town.
In December 2015 Sailmakers – formerly Tower Ramparts – opened its doors in a multi-million pound renovation. One year later, popular shops are signing new contracts to remain in the town and Sailmakers is seeing in increased footfall. The new Buttermarket has fully opened, boasting a twelve screen cinema, gym and variety of new restaurants; all of which, will bring people back to our town centre. We are seeing new shops open across the town and, combined with the redevelopment of the Cornhill, the high street is beginning to improve.
There is, however, much more to be done and Ben will continue to drive forward to renovation of our town.
Ben is passionate about protecting existing services and campaigning for better facilities at Ipswich Hospital. He has successfully brought heart and other specialist services back to Heath Road.
The hospital has turned a corner, but there is still much more to do. Ipswich residents deserve a first class health care service. In the next five years Ben wants our hospital to become a regional centre of excellence- ensuring Ipswich patients have exceptional health care close to their home and their family.