championing Greater Ipswich and the Orwell Corridor


About Orwell Ahead Campaign

“Orwell Ahead is a campaign to champion the Greater Ipswich and Orwell Corridor economic area.

The 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 AN Orwell Ahead CAMPAIGN? 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. One Borough (Ipswich Borough) one super district council (East Suffolk), and two districts (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 Campaign - 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.  

a bold and sensible proposal for reform of local government in Suffolk (full details below). We are calling for:

  1. One Shared Service Group for the entire county, delivering 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 critically this service group would report to three democratically elected, equal sized executive authorities; East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Orwell (Ipswich to Felixstowe). Each authority will have around 250,000 population, recognising areas with shared historic and future interdependence and needs. Meaning that local government is more efficient, accountable and very much more “local”.

Suffolk County Council is facing a further £58m shortfall. The Local Government Association predicts a £5.8bn shortfall in nationwide 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).

The campaign proposals are 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. 

40  Reasons why we need a dual carriageway northern bypass.

Suffolk is invited to have its say on the potential options for the newly-named “Ipswich Northern Route” when the consultation officially begins on July 5, 2019.

* You can have your say at https://ipswichnorthernroute.org.uk/have-your-say/consultation/

Orwell Ahead campaign offers 40 reasons why we believe that a DUAL CARRIAGEWAY “INNER OPTION” northern route (Claydon to Martlesham) must be the No.1 priority and objective for Suffolk Chamber, Suffolk County Council and all stakeholders in the region.

*If you agree with us, please use any or all of the points below when completing the online formal consultation.

To keep the Port of Felixstowe viable. 

  1. 1982: 300,000 of TEUS* of container moves crossing the new Orwell Bridge.

    NOW 3 Million+.

  2. 1982: Container ship optimum size 1800 TEUS per vessel, discharging 300-400 TEUS per port call.

    NOW: 22,000 container vessels, discharging 6000 containers per port call.

  3. Port of Felixstowe is the only major container terminal in northern Europe NOT connected by motorway. Post Brexit deep sea trade will grow significantly, our country depends upon it.

  4. 30,000 logistics jobs are directly and indirectly dependent on the local and regional infrastructure (rail and highways) in and around IPSWICH.

  5. Port of Felixstowe was once untouchable but not any longer. The tipping point (distance, bunkers, ULCV** capital lease, landside fuel) has been met. London Gateway is a serious threat to Suffolk jobs.

  6. London Gateway has 120 miles of motorway to the “golden triangle” (the key midlands distribution hubs). The South East LEP*** is promoting a Lower Thames Crossing which will alleviate the worst of congestion affecting London Gateway.

  7. From Felixstowe you must travel 120 miles before reaching motorway on route to these hubs! The journey is on a badly congested A14 with major bottle necks and weak points (like the Orwell Bridge which is already creaking with 3m TEUS crossing each year!).

    Notes: * TEUS = Twenty Foot Equivalent Units. ** ULCV = Ultra Large Container Vessel Type. *** Local Enterprise Partnership

To serve a successful and growing area. 

  1. Ipswich is one of the country’s largest and fastest growing economies with £4.5bn GVA* per annum.

  2. Greater Ipswich area has a combined GVA of around £8bn pa. It is the heart of the greatest economic zone in Norfolk and Suffolk. We take it for granted at our peril.

  3. Norwich and Norfolk secured £400m plus of spending for upgrades to the A11 and A47, and sensibly concluded that there must be a dual carriageway northern bypass for Norwich. The Norwich Northern Distributor Road (dual-carriageway bypass) on its own is coming in at around £185m.

  4. Ipswich is very similar in population size to Norwich and Cambridge. Our urban centre has a higher population than Norwich. Our “greater urban area” and “ONS Travel to Work**” area is also similar.

  5. By 2031, Suffolk’s population is expected to grow by 27% (195,000). Much of this growth will be in the Ipswich to Felixstowe peninsula.

  6. A complete inner option Northern Bypass will unlock massive economic benefits for the Port of Felixstowe, BT Martlesham, south and east Suffolk and Greater Ipswich.

  7. A complete inner option Northern Bypass will assist the flow to/from east Suffolk. Being the final link in an “Greater Ipswich orbital road system” it would provide clockwise and counter clockwise options to navigate and enter/exist East Anglia's BIGGEST city economy.

  8. A complete inner option Northern Bypass could provide at least 5 more key routes to/from/through Ipswich.

    Notes: * GVA = Gross Value Added (Goods & Services). ** ONS = Government’s Office of National Statistics.

To form a "Greater Ipswich Orbital" allowing for movement to/from/across the town. 

  1. 1982: Ipswich Borough’s population 110,000.

    NOW: 133,000. FORECAST: 150,000.

  2. 1982: Kesgrave, Martlesham and Trimley once villages.

    NOW: Suffolk Coastal District Council (now East Suffolk District Council) dumping 51% of its housing south of the Deben like an ”Ipswich Mark II”, disjointed new towns and massive planned estates with NO joined up infrastructure to serve them.

  3. 1982: Greater Ipswich area (travel to work area population) 180,000.

    NOW: 250,000 (TTW ONS)

  4. 1982: Estimated 40,000 vehicle moves per day.

    NOW reaching 70,000 vehicle moves per day in and around the town.

  5. The traffic congestion in the town centre and surrounding roads will get worse. Increased journey times are deterring people from driving into Ipswich for work, business, retail or tourism.

  6. Noise and poor air quality around the queuing traffic within Ipswich is increasing. The health of residents in Ipswich will suffer and this will add further cost to the public purse.

  7. There is NO contingency should the Orwell Bridge need major repair or become structurally compromised. The whole of east and south Suffolk would be economically at risk.

To allow a proper bypass option

  1. Of 70,000 daily moves around 15% are Port of Felixstowe related, plus another 15% from South West Suffolk to/from North East Suffolk which have to go through Ipswich or over the Orwell on route.

  2. This route also serves the entire east Suffolk economy, including Sizewell A & B (and possibly C).

  3. This route is key to a possible “Cambridge Ipswich Tech Corridor” (Adastral park), and future jobs that Norwich is actively targeting.

  4. There is a significant percentage of people who live in Ipswich and work out of town, and vice versa. Accessing a northern bypass or Ipswich orbital would relieve stress on our interior roads, which would improve transport across the town.

  5. 12,000 new homes are planned across 3 local authorities to the north and east of Ipswich.

  6. SCDC (now East Suffolk District Council) is dumping 51% of their new houses in the north and east Ipswich and Felixstowe area (around 4000-6000 homes), Babergh and MSDC a large number too (around 3000-5000 new houses) on the western Ipswich fringe. Ipswich Borough also plans 4000 extra houses within the ancient and outdated borough boundaries on the northern Ipswich fringe. A perfect Suffolk storm is heading this way!

To better serve villages to the north of Ipswich.

  1. We doubt anyone is still objecting to - or would be without - the southern bypass or Orwell Bridge now.

  2. With a massive planned expansion of housing and a possible post Brexit boom for deep sea cargo the villages north of Ipswich face becoming trapped in “cul-de-sacs”.

  3. Areas like the Crofts, Northgate, Bixley, Kesgrave and Martlesham will become gridlocked.

  4. Villages like Brightwell, Bucklesham, Wherstead, Levington, Nacton, Sproughton, Bramford, Claydon are no less attractive places to live by being close to the A12/A14. Quite the contrary, they benefit from having excellent links, accessibility and local economy.

  5. With 12,000 new homes planned west, north and east of Ipswich the very villages historically opposed to a bypass are now most in need of one.

  6. This is an Ipswich, South Suffolk, East Suffolk, East Anglia and national issue. It could take 6-10 years to deliver, so we must start now to ensure that this part of Anglia has the infrastructure needed for the next 50 years.

Orwell Ahead CAMPAIGN backs a dual carriageway (such as the A12 east of Ipswich or Norwich NDR): a dual carriageway with roundabouts; from Claydon junction to Martlesham junction. 

  1. A full “expressway”/”motorway” (A14/A12) northern bypass with major junctions is not financially achievable at this time.

  2. A single carriageway Northern Relief Road will be overwhelmed when the bridge is closed. It will quickly be compromised in the short term by natural growth and too expensive to upgrade it at a later time.

  3. A second bridge on the Orwell will be subject to the same problems as the current bridge. It will not address the greater needs of the local area or wider region, or provide the same level of benefits as a northern route.

  4. A tunnel under the Orwell will be too expensive. It wont be able to cater for over-width or hazardous cargo, the depth and incline would not meet the needs of long container vehicles.

  5. A second southern route will only put more volume of traffic into an area that is already congested. It will not provide any economic advantage for east Suffolk. It will not provide any benefit or solution for the 12,000 additional houses planned to the north and east of Ipswich.

  6. The southern bypass was planned 50 years ago, built 35 years ago, and yet we haven’t even started planning highway expansion for the next wave of growth in population and freight!

Orwell ahead campaign backs CitY Status for Ipswich.

20 reasons why IPSWICH can and must win CITY status.

  1. Suffolk is the 12th largest county in England. It is the largest English county without a city and the only county in the top 20 without a city.

  2. There is no precedence that a city must have a cathedral. Bath, Cambridge, Hull, Lancaster, Newport, Nottingham, Plymouth, Salford, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton do not have cathedrals.

  3. Ipswich has a charter granted by King John - issued 15 years before the Magna Carta - guaranteeing the town a right to govern itself. Ipswich governed itself for 774 years before its identity and autonomy was stolen by the Local Government Act 1972 (implemented 1974). Now we rely on the enlightened permission of Suffolk County Council cabinet members from as far as Bury St Edmunds, Mildenhall, Aldeburgh, Threadling, Nayland or Halesworth to tell us 250,000 people in and around Ipswich how we should run our area.

  4. Ipswich is one of the country’s largest and fastest growing economies with £4.5bn GVA per annum.

  5. Ipswich is very similar in population size to Norwich and Cambridge. Our urban centre has a higher population than Norwich. Our greater urban area and Travel to Work area is also similar.

  6. Ipswich is Suffolk's only true conurbation. You can pretty much fit Suffolk's biggest towns inside of Ipswich's urban population (Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Felixstowe and Newmarket).

  7. SCDC plans to dump 51% of their new houses in the Ipswich area, and Babergh a large number too. A total of around 8000 new houses. Add 4000 from IBC too! All are dependent upon Ipswich yet the centre they rely upon has been neglected; stripped of a joined up voice, focus or ambition.

  8. Ipswich Borough also plans 4000 extra houses within the ancient borough boundaries. Clearly we need joined up thinking. We need a single focus and direction. Ipswich as a centre needs a very clear identity and sense of place within all this growth.

  9. Kesgrave, Martlesham and Trimley were once villages. NOW: Suffolk Coastal District Council is dumping 51% of its housing as ”Ipswich Mark II” disjointed “new towns” and massive planned estates, without joined up infrastructure to serve them. Suffolk's 9th largest town is now Kesgrave and the soon to be 12th largest town will be Martlesham. Both are in truth a part of a growing and prosperous greater Ipswich area, which deserves to be acknowledged and working as one for the residents and stakeholders who share the area.

  10. We love Bury St Edmunds... who doesn't? It has a strong identity and position as an historic town. It doesn’t need any more accolades or ego. City status won’t improve Bury St Edmunds in the slightest. It will, however, give Ipswich a much needed boost.

  11. Ipswich had a Suffragan Bishop as far back as 1534, a full 380 years before the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich was created or before Bury's St James Church became a cathedral (1914).

  12. There is no precedent that says our beloved Ipswich Town FC must change its name to Ipswich City FC. However, Ipswich as a place becoming a city may attract more ambitious owners, managers and players. Many players are too young to have heard of our illustrious history and have never heard of Ipswich as a place. Perhaps playing for a city just 70 miles from the capital will prove a more attractive sell.

  13. Many Ipswich Town FC fans say "what is the point of being promoted to the Premier League, we'd only come straight back down". It is exactly this apathy and loser mentality that not only resonates round our club but also the entire town. Ipswich needs higher ambition, we need people who are hungry for the "premier league", not only in football terms but for Ipswich as a place too.

  14. If we want to attract top retail to Ipswich we need for it to be "on the map". All cities are on the radar for the major retail outlets. Ipswich is 42nd biggest urban area and 35th biggest retail centre. Bury St Edmunds has a beautiful retail centre, yet despite its woes Ipswich is still three times bigger. In fact of all the major urban areas only Manchester, Leeds, Norwich (which is successful because it is so isolated up there) really buck the trend. Ipswich punches at our own weight and in spite of plenty of competing retail centres within one hour. If we had critical mass and were a city we may register with the bigger retailers and attract more interest.

  15. Ipswich was not only a County-Borough but also County Town of East Suffolk, actively involved and the major stakeholder. We had 22 major engineering and manufacturing giants. Without a strong Ipswich there would be no BT Adastral Park, no Port of Felixstowe, no Sizewell, no Orwell Bridge or southern bypass. All Suffolk's major economic development has come when Ipswich has been in a position of strength.

  16. Ipswich has a charter from Henry VIII in 1518 which gives Ipswich complete control over the River Orwell and its shores. Without a strong Ipswich there would be no Port of Felixstowe.

  17. Ipswich area has a GVA of around £8bn pa. Norwich area (including Aviva/Norwich Union and Norwich Research Park) is £6.5bn. Ipswich IS at the heart of the greatest economic zone in Norfolk and Suffolk. Ipswich should not be a poor relation in Suffolk. A strong and confident Ipswich could do even better for Suffolk.

  18. Ipswich should not be in the shadows of Norwich and Cambridge. We are an equal. We are Suffolk’s regional centre. A strong Ipswich means a stronger Suffolk. We cannot hope to win government investment, third party investment, lottery funding, LEP focus and funding for highways and economic development unless we are equipped with the same tools and status.

  19. For too long Ipswich has brought out the worst behaviour in Suffolk people. Suffolk people wrongly look down on the town. Ipswich people kick the town before others do.

  20. It is time to re-evaluate Ipswich as a place; to celebrate what is great about Ipswich, to be more positive and ambitious for it.

    City status won’t solve all our problems or challenges, but it will give the town a fresh start; a new sense of place, identity and value once again, in Ipswich, in Suffolk and beyond.