Championing Greater Ipswich and the Orwell Corridor


About Orwell Ahead

“Orwell Ahead is a non-partisan business and community group, championing the Greater Ipswich and Orwell Corridor economic area.

Our aims are simple: to ensure permanent and proportionate economic and political representation for this sub-region. We strive for our area to be fully and fairly represented in local government, at Local Enterprise Partnership board level, and in regional media”.

About Greater Ipswich and Orwell Economic Zone

The prosperity of Greater Ipswich and the Orwell Corridor is vital to around a quarter of million people (a third of Suffolk’s population). With an economy of approximately £8bn pa, it is the biggest economic zone in Norfolk and Suffolk, accounting for an incredible 62% of Suffolk’s entire output.
The sub-region did not happen by chance, but has expanded from the banks of the Orwell for a millennium.

Today the peninsula is home to a shared river, highways and rail infrastructure, workforce and football team; plus a shared centre for a university and education, finance, housing, health and social care, arts and culture, media, retail and commerce.

The Orwell Peninsula boasts three interdependent economic giants: Suffolk’s regional capital of Ipswich is the foundation for a £8bn sub-regional economy, supporting 260,000 jobs, and 20,000 businesses (within 15 miles). The area incorporates the two jewels of Suffolk's economy; BT Adastral Park producing £2.6bn pa and employing 4,000; and the Port of Felixstowe at approximately £1.5bn pa and creating around 15,000 local jobs directly and indirectly.

The Greater Ipswich area is also home to major construction, legal, insurance, shipping, digital media, food & drink and manufacturing firms.

Website Images
All images on this website are (c) copyright of Paul Sherman. To purchase images or for more details, please contact Paul directly on pes31@hotmail.co.uk. You can view Paul's work on https://www.flickr.com/photos/pes96/albums.

Why our area needs its own voice

Why do we need Orwell Ahead ? Isn’t the area already well represented ?

Our £8bn pa single economic zone has no single focus or voice, and therein lies the issue.

Investors and business do not see boundaries when they invest; they see a location, an economic centre and the infrastructure around it. If you want to win investment you need joined up thinking, a single offering and vision.

In contrast, our area has a myriad of administration and a vacuum of direct accountability:

  1. One county council (Suffolk County Council, often without any cabinet members living here),
  2. Four district councils (Ipswich Borough, Suffolk Coastal - soon to merge with Lowestoft based Waveney, Babergh and Mid-Suffolk District Councils),
  3. Four MPs (Sandy Martin, Dan Poulter, James Cartlidge and Therese Coffey),
  4. the New Anglia LEP, 
  5. Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and Felixstowe Chamber of Commerce.

Currently, and historically, it takes a minor miracle for so many divergent groups - all with competing and vested interests, different ideologies and focuses -to agree upon anything!

And this is where we are fundamentally different in our approach. We believe that our area deserves more than occasional collaboration or token gestures. We believe that our area is vitally important. So, as the major catalyst for our region’s prosperity there needs to be a single focus, ambition, direction and accountability for Greater Ipswich and the Orwell Peninsula. 


Orwell Ahead Our Three Aims

Initially, we are seeking better collaborative working between all those involved in the governance of the Ipswich and Orwell sub-region.

Our focus is on three key goals:

  1. Media representation and perception. To raise awareness of the value of our economic zone. Making sure our area is presented and portrayed fairly, receiving parity of coverage in local and regional media, and beyond.
  2. Economic and infrastructure representation ensuring that Greater Ipswich and the Orwell Corridor economic zone has permanent, proportionate and high quality representation on the New Anglia LEP board.
  3. Local and Regional Government representation ensuring that Greater Ipswich and the Orwell corridor is receiving fair, proportionate and accountable representation at all levels of local government. You simply cannot have a strong Suffolk without a strong Ipswich.

Such aims are the very least our citizens and businesses should expect, and in the best interest of our area and county. Yet alarmingly, our area has no common voice, representation, direction or ambition; underachieving in every aspect.

Orwell River and Orwell Bridge

The River Orwell and Orwell Bridge are the symbols that unite us.

The River Orwell

A symbol that unites our £8bn economic zone. Symbol of our shared history and shared future. Symbol of our area's unity, interdependence, shared assets and mutual benefits.

The Orwell Bridge

A symbol of shared interest, vision, and achievement. A powerful symbol of our area’s link to Suffolk, Anglia, the United Kingdom and the world. A potent reminder of what can be achieved when our area works together.

Reform Suffolk Campaign.  

Orwell Ahead has unveiled “Reform Suffolk CAMPAIGN” - a bold and radical proposal for reform of local government in Suffolk (full details below). We are calling for:

  1. One Shared Service Group for the entire county, which will deliver all county and district services. It reduces duplication because it involves just one service provider, instead of one county council and seven districts, each with conflicting priorities and overlapped services.
  2. Voters will gain more control because this service group would report to three equal sized unitary districts; East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Orwell (Ipswich to Felixstowe). Each district will have around 250,000 population, recognising areas with historic and shared ties, and needs. Meaning that local government is more efficient, accountable and very much more “local”.

The Local Government Association predicts a £5.8bn shortfall in budgets by 2020. Our nation is £1.8 trillion in debt, local services are being cut and squeezed at an alarming rate. 

Our proposed structure can substantially save money. It can limit community charges, long term. It will provide a stronger, balanced and fairer platform for future Devolution in Suffolk (and existing shared county wide responsibilities and interests such as PCC, CCG, LEP, etc).

Orwell Ahead’s proposal is not a power grab but a power share, restoring power to you. It ensures that power is shared fairly and with balance to ALL in Suffolk, creating local government fit for the 21st century. Ensuring that decisions are made for and by local people.