Our Friends in Financial Services
On Monday morning I co-hosted a breakfast at the university for people working in financial services. Stay with me! These guys are important: 6,400 people are employed in financial and related services sectors in Ipswich, generating £941m of income for the town, or £147,000 for every one of my constituents. The figure for Suffolk is over £1billion. Just suck that up for a moment: £1 billion for our county alone.
Not unsurprisingly, the people at the breakfast get pretty irritated at all the banker bashing that still goes on. They'd be the first to admit that there were some terrible bankers but most people in financial services are doing an honest job very well indeed. And without them we would all be the poorer.
I was sad the other day to hear of a bank clerk working at a branch in the town centre who was berated in the pub for causing the recession. That's wrong: it's time we celebrated financial services again, not least because the life of our own town depends on it.
When a business outgrows the spare room, it needs somewhere to operate. Which tells you why the commercial property market - offices and shops in plain English - is such an important barometer of the economy. If business is going well, commercial property is in demand; if not, then the 'To Let' signs start springing up as square footage falls vacant.
It is good news, then, to see that Savills, a big commercial property agent, have let four offices in the last few months. Springvale Court in the Hadleigh Road has been rented out to CfBT Education Trust, a large education charity; Energetix Group - an energy company - has taken space in Felaw Maltings; Sir Thomas Slade Court in Star Lane has been let to CJD Leisure Limited; and Sharedband - a broadband company - has taken on 40 Princes Street.
That's 20,427 sq ft let in one go, at a total annual rent of £190,760. Those are good numbers, as are the names, which show the breadth of private sector business coming to the town as the economy rebalances away from the government and debt towards business and sustainable jobs.
More Good News - Parking This Time
The problems of parking at the hospital have been persistent and unsolvable since I became your MP. The cost is high and it is difficult to get a place, causing some people to park in nearby streets making life miserable for the residents.
I am very glad that the new estates director, Jeff Calver, has decided to get a grip of the situation.
The big news was that parking prices have dropped for visitors: that's great. There were always good deals for people who came regularly and they remain.
What has been less publicised has been the increase in parking spaces that Jeff's brought about. Currently there are 1,600 spaces at the hospital. Another 100 will be added soon on the main site and a further 30 in Pearson Road. That's an increase of over 8% in one go, which is a very good start.
The fly in the ointment is the rise in parking charges for hospital staff. I've continued to make my point that well-paid consultants should be asked to contribute more than porters and cleaners on the minimum wage.
Let's hope Jeff can sort that one too. If he manages to sort out parking at the hospital, he will be the most popular man in the town.
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