Tesco have pulled out of their Grafton Way development.
The writing was on the wall since current Tesco chief Philip Clarke announced a dip in profits last year and said Britain’s largest supermarket was rethinking its expansion plans.
Immediately, I feared for the future of the Grafton Way site, which once was earmarked for not only a huge Tesco supermarket (bigger than Copdock) but also a hotel, other shops, a piazza in front of the waterfront etc. The previous Conservative administration at Ipswich Borough Council, apart from one local Tory butcher, were wholly in favour of the new development which would have brought £90 Million of investment into the beleaguered Ipswich economy.
But Labour were dead against Tesco from the start, voting en masse against the jobs and infrastructure investment (the Novotel roundabout was to be scrapped and this junction vastly improved) at Planning Committee. Once they regained power in 2011, they threw up the ‘Closed for Business’ sign and made it quite clear they detested enterprise, only half-heartedly welcoming Waitrose and John Lewis At Home to Ipswich on the former Cranes site off Nacton Road.
Tesco had already downscaled their proposal for the former B&Q site, which led to former Conservative Group leader, Cllr John Carnall, putting it to Labour that since they took over the reigns at Grafton House they had lost £20 Million of inward investment in “one fell swoop!”
This was more than just a quick jibe at Labour. Business is not some abstract world – it is about personal human relationships. Do you think Mr Clarke’s team looked at Ipswich when they were deciding where to axe expansion and thought “oh yes, we can do business with Ipswich Borough Council easily?”. Nope, me neither. Believe me Labour’s anti-business rhetoric would have been heard at Tesco HQ in Hertfordshire and would have been a major deciding factor in Tesco pulling out of Grafton Way.
So Labour managed to lose 900 jobs and £90 Million investment in two years. Good work, Cllr Ellesmere!