RE: Ipswich Vision: In A Nutshell

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Discussion in 'Ipswich Democracy Group' started by Ipswich, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. Ipswich

    IpswichAdministratorStaff Member

    The Undemocratic Ipswich Vision group has been in the press as what seems like forever and a day.

    What is it?

    Ipswich Vision is an informal group - primarily a brand - where all partners discuss the future of Ipswich. Partners include pillars of authority, the university and business groups.

    When did Ipswich residents vote it in?

    There was no referendum, public consultation, or informal poll or discussion. It just happened.

    Is it accountable?

    No. The idea of Ipswich Vision meetings circumvents legislation on democracy.

    Council meetings have to be advertised and minutes of proceedings published. Some meetings may be held in private (i.e. public not allowed to hear them) although the dates and times are published freely, whereas most the public can attend. Some parts of minutes or agenda items might be redacted or restricted. No right to Freedom of Information requests by actions of Ipswich Vision.

    Apart from when Ipswich Star published PR pieces for the Ipswich Vision, the taxpayers and voters of Ipswich have no idea what Ipswich Vision are doing or discussing.

    Who are the "partners"?
    • Suffolk County Council - Conservative administration
    • Ipswich Borough Council - Labour administration
    • Ipswich Central (town centre BID) - Conservative bias (largely came out in favour of Tory policy)
    • Ipswich MP - Was Ben Gummer (Conservative), now Sandy Martin (Labour)
    • Suffolk Chamber - Conservative bias (publicly criticised new MP over try to axe the Upper Orwell Crossings)
    • New Anglia LEP - Regional bias and Conservative bias
    • University of Suffolk - Still controlled by Suffolk County Council
    Residents can only vote for 3 of the 7 partners (under half!) being Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and the Ipswich MP. 5 of 7 have a Tory bias (down from 6 when Ben Gummer was voted out). No other political party bias out of the two main parties.

    • The councils have councillors of rival parties (i.e. opposition)
    • Referred to as the "Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich" it is the same organisation as the Suffolk Chamber (founded as Ipswich Chamber but renamed in its recent history)
    Who controls it?

    Suffolk Conservatives. The county dislikes Ipswich (why do they have a base in the county town?!) - the entire county has Conservative MPs while Ipswich has an Labour MP (but last two parliaments also a Tory MP).

    Suffolk County Council's logo and coat of arms contains two emblems of Saint Edmund. The Suffolk town of Bury liked him so much they appended his name to the name of their town.

    David Ellesmere might think he has a big say in the Ipswich Vision as in control of one of the top three partners... but the group is strongly against. Some people have speculated this is why the borough council has invested a lot in commercial property to try to counter the impact of Suffolk Conservatives (including acquiring the Sugar Beet factory outside the Labour-controlled borough). We admire it but he will lose.

    What is the purpose behind it?

    The group set up by Ben Gummer MP was intended primarily to leverage pressure on Ipswich Borough Council who didn't want the "Wet Dock Crossings" to sign the paperwork to get government funding for it.

    Why the Upper Orwell Crossings?

    Anything to avoid a Northern Bypass that his father cancelled at the last moment.

    Speculation of land deals. The island site of Ipswich Waterfront (the Wet Dock) is close to worthless as it is in a significant flood zone and oversubscribed road network surrounding it makes it something developers aren't interested in.

    There is a lot of interest in and around Ipswich for housing projects - Northern Fringe, Adastral Park and even the town centre as a few examples... no interest in the Island Site - even with the Enterprise Island title and Enterprise Zone.

    Do people support the concept of Ipswich Vision?

    Hard to gauge without a proper wide survey. We suspect not.

    Ipswich Star ran a survey recently - 650 readers responded to date - a follow up article states:-

    Do the people of Ipswich want a Northern Bypass?

    From the same survey, snippet from the article on Ipswich Star:-

    We guess so.

    Why would Labour IBC support Suffolk Conservatives?

    Money talks. Primarily, they are a junior council with very little overall power - despite the modern inclusion of the coat of arms everywhere. Secondary, it was a perfect opportunity to do a deal with the devil to get investment for the town centre, Cornhill.

    What was "the deal with the devil"?

    David Ellesmere signed the paperwork to get central government funding for the Upper Orwell Crossings. This was needed to secure the monies to make the project go ahead.

    Ben Gummer invited Stuart Rose to Ipswich to initiate a reason to the redevelopment the central square (despite a year earlier Ben Gummer defending the town when residents were calling it a hell hole and cesspit on the radio, demanding the leaders to something about the town centre). The idea was to redevelop the Cornhill.

    This stinks with deliberate separation. Suffolk Conservative controlled Suffolk County Council are the ones to do the planning application for the Cornhill project - not the junior council Ipswich Borough Council. It was deliberately given to Ipswich Borough Council to approve (despite major opposition even by the Ipswich Society) to give distinction of them not being behind all the projects.

    IBC slipped up initially by not declaring the planning application to be by themselves.

    Did the people want the Cornhill project?

    No, not the people who responded to the public consultation anyhow. This is why Ipswich Vision approved to the designs on behalf of the people, without a public consultation. They thought everyone would have accepted it and have pushed on to get it done.

    The reason why Ipswich Borough Council ignored the view of the people on such a major project is David Ellesmere had already signed off on the bridge and hadn't got anything in return.

    At such stage it was expected for Ben Gummer to remain in, so Mr Ellesmere couldn't have expected Ben's replacement to plan to scrap it. Ipswich needs neither project.

    A Northern Bypass and revamped town centre is what is needed.

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