Suffolk Devolution deal
The Suffolk Devolution deal was officially agreed with Government Minister Lee Rowley this afternoon. This involves a significant amount of new funding for Suffolk and powers. Particularly over skills and things like adult education. It will include a £480 million investment fund over 30 years.
This does represent in my view an opportunity for Suffolk and Ipswich. It must be taken.
In principle I’ve always believed in decisions being taken as closely as possible to the people affected by those decisions.
Suffolk will only ever achieve its true potential if Ipswich achieves its true potential. The new devolution settlement for Suffolk must involve a strong focus on Ipswich. I will work with whoever I need to in order to try and ensure that.
I’m hoping this new model will help us get more investment into key infrastructure projects. Whether road or rail. There is much to be done.
Part of this will involve a new democratically elected leader of Suffolk County Council.
Northgate Sport Centre Summer Camp
Levelling Up Fund
Queens Speech Reaction
A few thoughts on the Queen’s speech. Will be making a speech about it on Thursday. It was an amazing experience being in the Royal gallery but sorry not to see the Queen who I know we’re all thinking about at the moment.
Ipswich BMX track
Levelling Up Agenda
Local Homes for Local People
Despite calling for one for the last 2 years it’s a shame that the local Labour Party refuse to introduce a proper local residency requirement for council housing. Local people get slight preference, that’s it as it stands.
What we need is a firm policy. Local Conservatives are proposing a new system that would mean you would have to live in Ipswich for at least 6 years before you’re eligible. They’ve studied other local authorities who have done this. No reason why we can’t do it here in Ipswich.
There is a long waiting list in the thousands for council properties. Let’s properly back local residents for all properties.
The Town Deal
On the whole, I think this is a really good budget for Ipswich. Clearly there are two items that are specific to Ipswich and the local area that stand out. Firstly, the £25 million that was announced for the Ipswich Town Deal that will fund 11 projects across the Town. These projects have now been confirmed having previously gone out for public consultation and I look forward to working closely with Dr Dan Poulter and other members of the Town Deal Board to turn these projects into a reality and a positive legacy for the Town.
Having Freeport East confirmed as one of the first freeports in the country was also great news. All in all, around 6,000 of my constituents are either directly or indirectly employed by the Port of Felixstowe and I’m very excited about what the implications of the Port being a freeport could mean for skills, jobs and investment in the area.
More generally however, I was also very pleased to see the significant amount of new support for businesses. Particularly the hospitality sector that has been so badly impacted by the pandemic. The recovery grants and the positive news regarding VAT, business rates and duties may well end up being a lifeline for many.
I signed a few letters ahead of the budget with other MPs. I signed one calling for the £20 increase in Universal Credit to be extended for as long as the pandemic and its effects go on for. I’m pleased it was confirmed today that the increase has been extended for 6 months. I also signed a letter calling for fuel duty to be frozen. I’m pleased that it was confirmed today that it has been frozen for a record 10th consecutive year.
I also believe that the decision to extend the furlough scheme until the autumn is wise. Hopefully by the time it ends, the economy will have had a good few months to really kick off following the end of the restrictions and we can safeguard as many of those jobs as possible.
Clearly, over the coming years the Chancellor is going to have to make a number of tough decisions to repay the huge debts we’ve incurred fighting this pandemic. He made a start today in outlining some of the ways he plans to do this. However, I was pleased that in outlining his approach to increasing Corporation Tax over time he is acutely sensitive to the need to not hit smaller businesses.
LANDSEER PARK BMX CLUB
Raised Ipswich BMX Club at Landseer Park directly in the Chamber today and their campaign to raise money for a new track. The club does vital work giving young people in the local area a positive hobby but the track is deteriorating and they’re currently around £60,000 short of the amount needed to resurface it. That’s why I called on the Minister to work with me and the club to leave no stone unturned in finding this extra funding.
In response to me, the Minister mentioned funding from British Cycling and I’ve written to them to ask if they’ll consider upping the amount they’ve indicated they will contribute to the project and to meet with me to discuss it. This meeting is now in my diary for next week with Tracey Reeve who’s leading on this project with club.
I’m also having conversations about whether a small amount of the £25 million secured for Ipswich from the Government’s Towns Fund can help make the new track a reality.
The BMX club is a huge community asset in Gainsborough which has been identified as an area of deprivation. In my letters to Ministers about the new track before, I’ve made the case that this investment would be repaid many times over in the benefits it brings the community. You really can’t put a price on keeping youngsters away from negative influences and giving them positive role models which the club does. I’ll keep exploring every avenue to ensure the club can go from strength to strength with this new track.
The Sports Minister also announced a £300 million support package today to protect the sports sector over the winter, and I’ll be looking very closely at how we can benefit from this in Ipswich.