Please note that Ben is in the pub this evening to talk to residents with local conservative councillor Lee Reynolds - details at the end of the article:
Every year, the unglamorous convene in the capital of glamour when property developers descend on Cannes, the jewel of the Riviera. OK – that’s a little unfair on property developers but the contrast is not lost on the legions of property-connected people who make their way to the south of France every year. Architects, international estate agents, landscapers, developers, construction executives, planners, urban environmentalists – anyone who is anyone in big property goes to Cannes for this jamboree.
What’s it all about? It’s called MIPIM and it’s a bit like the motor show for property: from development companies seeing opportunities to the big architect firms showing their latest plans, it is an opportunity for property people to see and be seen. Lately, another group have come to this show – and in increasing force: cities. Rio, London, New York – they put up enormous stalls to show the world big land development opportunities and invite people to invest.
Now MIPIM has come to London. No sun in Olympia but the opportunities are as big. This show, made especially for Britain to show itself to the investment world, was something we knew precisely nothing about until a brilliant government official suggested to the Ipswich Vision Board that Ipswich should go. That was in July, with only three months before the stand had to go up. We pondered for about thirty seconds and then threw our hat in the ring. The Borough and County Councils cashed up and the Local Enterprise Partnership, representing local businesses, helped to bring it together. Last week, I went along to see how it was all going.
This is where you will be proud. Amongst stalls for Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Cardiff, the Scottish cities and London boroughs was our stand. Why would it make you proud? For three reasons: first, it looked very good, despite the short timescale that the team had to bring it together; secondly, it showed to terrific effect the amazing opportunities our town has to offer – great even by the standards of far larger cities elsewhere in Britain – just as I and others have been banging on about for so long; and thirdly, because it was a genuine team effort.
We all know the difficult relationship that has persisted – for decades – between our county council and our borough. But recently, in large part because of the Ipswich Vision, the two have worked with a closeness that has surprised everyone, including the councils themselves. Both are collaborating with the LEP, which is proving itself a real force for good in our town, county and Anglian region. Some of us are from different political parties but all of us are working together for the town.
Is it some comfortable charade? When we started this process back in May, it was clear that the old feelings of distrust were still raw: I, as much as anyone, was guilty of that fact. But since then, through working together, we have formed a genuine partnership that is already delivering results, one of which is that when we now meet – as in MIPIM – it is as comrades in a common cause.
One thing that I had never anticipated in this great crusade for the renewal of Ipswich is that it would make our politics and our relationships better. Yet that is the first thing that has happened, which is a marvellous thing for the town. Long may it continue, because we will be able to encourage people to invest in our town, making it better for everyone who lives here now. Our presence at MIPIM helped that goal come closer, even if Olympia is less glamorous than Cannes.
Ben In The Woolpack
This Friday (6th November) I will be in The Woolpack from 19:30-21:00 with local Councillor Lee Reynolds.
Please come along to discuss any issues you might want to raise.
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