Ipswich: Business leaders highlight town’s image issue

IPSWICH MP Ben Gummer has vowed to tackle the way the county town is perceived across the rest of Suffolk following discussions with business leaders.

The meeting, hosted by law firm Birketts, aimed to give firms the chance to talk to the MP about their concerns, and the event developed into a debate on the image of the town, both elsewhere in Suffolk and overaseas.

Mr Gummer said he was encouraged that key business leaders were prepared to work together to identify the wider issues of promoting the town.

“The focus of our discussion was surprisingly more general than I had expected,” said Mr Gummer. “There is a real appetite in Ipswich for businesses to work together to improve the reputation of the town. It was agreed that Ipswich needs a real sense of purpose and focus to encourage people to live and work here.

“We met primarily to talk about professional services in the town. It was an opportunity for prominent businesses to engage in frank and honest discussions to give me a much better understanding of the issues facing my constituents.

“The fact that these key businesses leaders were prepared to talk about the wider issues affecting Ipswich was very positive, and very refreshing.”

Guests at the lunchtime event concluded that work needs to be done to entice overseas companies looking to set up operations in the UK to consider Ipswich, and that this could be helped by giving the town a clear identity so people have a better idea of what is has to offer, including its close proximity to London.

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It was also agreed that businesses need to look to the future and invest in the young people of the region by making them better prepared for the world of work.

Mr Gummer added: “I was very impressed by everyone’s focus and optimism. These lunches are certainly giving me food for thought and I shall be pressing ministers and councils on all the matters raised.

“One thing I am determined to tackle is the way the rest of the county perceives Ipswich. People should not talk down their county town.

“As people realise when they come here, Ipswich has a huge amount to offer and has potential for massive improvement beyond that. It’s time we all worked together to have a county town of which everyone in Suffolk can be proud.”