Ipswich: Town comes together to shine a beacon on a brighter future

SEIZE the opportunity! That is the message that will ring out in Ipswich today as delegates gather for the second Beacon Town conference at the Corn Exchange.

One of the world’s top retailers, former Marks & Spencer boss Sir Stuart Rose, will speak to nearly 200 delegates – and the conference will then discuss how the town should bid for �24million from the government’s “Future Cities” fund available for one town or city to use new technology to transform itself.

The conference is being sponsored by The Ipswich Star in association with the borough council and MP Ben Gummer.

Mr Gummer feels that the conference is coming at a crucial time for the town – just as it stands on the threshold of major new developments which could transform Ipswich and the wider area.

He said: “If you look at what is happening, it does look very exciting, but it does need the whole town to seize the opportunities we have ahead of us.

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“Things are happening around the Waterfront and the development up at Futura Park – the new Waitrose and John Lewis – are hugely significant for the town.”

Mr Gummer agreed with Ipswich Central managing director Paul Clement that the town is beginning to develop its distinctive identity as a Waterfront centre with retail and entertainment venues nearby.

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The borough is leading the effort to promote Ipswich as the “smart city” to win the �24m funding from the government. It is one of 30 shortlisted communities taking part in the race for the prize.

Borough council Leader David Ellesmere said: “The conference will bring together nearly 200 people from many fields in commerce, local and national government and the education sector.

“It aims to address two very important issues and we look forward to finding solutions to the challenges we all face.”

n What can be done to improve Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk

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