Meeting with Dr Dan Poulter MP, the River Gipping Trust and Suffolk County Council about making the river more pedestrian friendly
Visited Great Blakenham with Dr Dan Poulter MP, representatives from the River Gipping Trust and Suffolk County Council. Three goals. Making the river fully navigable between Ipswich and Stowmarket for both boats and canoeists/paddle boarding, cleaning up the river particularly in Ipswich, and being able to easily walk the whole length of the river to enjoy the amazing countryside and nature along it.
I have long been campaigning on this issue. I have written to ministers to stress the importance of such a local river and the history behind it, highlighting how it has been used since Roman times.
I have also been working closely with the River Gipping Trust, pushing Ipswich Borough Council, the Government and Environment Agency as well as local developers to bring joined up thinking as well as see that any new developments near the river carefully consider its impacts and how it can become more pedestrian friendly.
I particularly want to see improvements to the pathway beside the river between Princes Street and Stoke bridge, as it links the station to the Waterfront, and I am encouraged by recent positive discussions.
Overall there is about sixteen miles of River Gipping between Ipswich and Stowmarket and due to the height difference between Ipswich and Stowmarket locks are needed to regulate the water levels. As we discussed today one of them, near Claydon, is broken and local groups are trying to source the funds.
Getting the locks installed has been a part of making the River Gipping more accessible and I am continuing to lobby with Dr Poulter MP to see the installation of Lock gates as a priority. There are steep funds for this at 15 million but we cannot allow such a treasured part of our historic town fall into disrepair. This project will make it more accessible to boats and, alongside other plans, will make the river a more environmentally friendly and safer place for our whole town to enjoy.
I know local groups and residents work incredibly hard to see the river is in the best condition and I have expressed my concern that their work isn’t carried forward by a singular public authority. I have been strong in tying these local authorities, agencies and stakeholders together to see a clear vision going forward.
It is still my belief that we should aspire to have the River Gipping in the category of one of our highest valued local resources enjoyed by the whole community. This river represents the whole history of Ipswich and should be looked after as such.