From the blog

Parliamentary candidates grilled by local business community

Members of the local business community grilled five parliamentary candidates last night during a hustings that allowed them the chance to pose the questions that matter to them.

The event, case organised by Ipswich Central, Ipswich Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Directors, was held at the University Campus Suffolk Waterfront Building and saw the five candidates, who are vying for the Ipswich seat, come together to speak to those who would make up a large part of their constituency.

Susie Fowler-Watt from BBC Look East chaired the debate involving Ben Gummer (Conservative), David Ellesmere (Labour), Chika Akinwale (Liberal Democrats), Barry Broom (Green Party) and Maria Vigneau (UKIP).

Questions from the floor covered topics important to many of those operating a business in the town such as higher education, broadband, the northern by-pass and what the successful candidate would do to ensure that the town centre takes priority over out of town retail developments.

Paul Clement, Chief Executive of Ipswich Central, said: “It was great to see so many people come together for the evening and take an interest in the town they live and work in.

“What was evident is that everyone in the room was in agreement that Ipswich needs a commonly agreed plan in order to move forward. This is something which everyone involved in the town including local politicians and businesses need to work together on in order to see Ipswich move forward.”

Michelle Pollard, Vice Chair of Ipswich Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is fantastic to have so many professional representatives attending this joint business event.

“Ipswich Chamber believes it is important that our local MP listens to local business needs, and addresses the areas identified in the Chamber’s manifesto on our local infrastructure, economic growth, and procurement systems to ensure we have a town that meets the needs of business and the community.”

Following the lively debate, those who attending were asked to vote for the one they thought performed best on the night. Once the votes were collated and counted, the winner, with 79% of the vote, was declared as Conservative candidate Ben Gummer.

Local businesses now need to decide who will get their vote on 7 May.