How much did the Ipswich tidal barrier cost UK tax-payers?
It appears that the cost has grown like topsy over the past five or so years of the construction phase. A Press Release in June 2014 suggested it was going to cost £38 million; the Environment Agency’s Project Manager had a different figure by October 2015 of £58 million. This summer the Ipswich Star was reporting the cost approaching £70 million but the latest figure available is £71 million.
Lower Thames Crossing
Some of you may recall an Ipswich Society outing in 2014 called ‘Crossing the Thames’ which visited the site of potential crossing-places east of Tower Bridge. The sites visited included Tilbury (Mucking Marshes), Gallions Reach (Woolwich) and Silvertown (where participants flew across the Thames on the Emirates Cable Car).
It was ably demonstrated on the site that a bridge could not be built at Gallions Reach by the arrival of an aircraft coming into land at London City Airport. The bridge would require 50 metres of clearance for passing ships bound for the Port of London whilst being less than 50 metres high to remain under the flight path.
However, the design work on the ‘Lower Thames Crossing’ – a tunnel between Tilbury and Gravesend – is well underway including recent changes to make the road a three-lane dual carriageway. The new ‘motorway’ will run from junction 29 of the M25 to the M2 and thus on to the Channel Tunnel. Exploration work has also started on the line of the Silvertown Tunnel which, more or less, follows the route of the Cable Car. The new road will run between the A12/A13 in Canning Town and the A102 in Greenwich and is scheduled to open in 2024.
The East Anglian Daily Times reports that Debenhams in Ipswich employs some 500 people, 300 in direct (but mainly part-time) employment with a further 200 working within the concessions. Nationally, Debenhams has 27,000 employees (in 127 stores) and unfortunately 4,000 are likely to go as their programme of fifty store closures takes effect.
Debenhams effectively started in 1778 when William Clark opened a drapers store in the west end of London in Wigmore Street. Thirty five years later William Debenham invested in the business and it became known as Clark & Debenham. Debenhams is the largest UK department store company and over the years has taken ownership of some 84 different businesses including Marshall & Snellgrove and in 1920 Harvey Nichols. The company currently has 241 stores in 22 countries. Debenhams Ipswich Store was built on the site of Footman & Pretty’s Waterloo House in 1979. The origins of the store can be traced back to June 21 1815, three days after the Battle of Waterloo.
Future High Streets Fund from central government
A new £675 million Future High Streets Fund will be set up in 2019 to help local areas to respond to and adapt to changes. It will support local areas to prepare long-term strategies for their high streets and town centres, including funding a new High Streets Taskforce to provide expertise and hands-on support to local areas and it will also then co-fund with local areas projects. Later this year MHCLG will launch the full prospectus for the Fund, detailing the objectives of the Fund, further detail on the nature of projects that are eligible for funding, and assessment criteria. One can only comment that this fund will be spread very thinly if it has to stretch across all of our high streets.