Ben Gummer has been in touch with Ipswich Spy to tell us about his new Fore Street office, pictured above. Here is what Mr Gummer had to say:
“This Saturday sees the ceremonial opening of my constituency office at 9 Fore Street, Ipswich, IP4 1JW. I am thrilled that the ribbon will be cut by some of the former employees of Vergo, one of the first groups of people I was able to help shortly after my election as Member of Parliament for Ipswich. It was a privilege to be able to protect their redundancy packages against all odds, and I will always treasure the memory of my first major victory as your MP.”
“I have written in my weekly Ipswich Evening Star column about the challenges of setting up a parliamentary office – and I am willing to admit that it has, at times, been a struggle! During a campaign, no constituencies have an MP. As a result, all new MPs are confronted with an automatic backlog of casework, as well as all the enquiries from a) people who were provoked by the campaign to write to their MP and b) those people who try to have a second bite on old queries directed to the previous MP.”
“Amongst the issues that we faced were some very difficult and sensitive items of casework, which needed urgent and detailed attention. At first, I had to process all of this – like all new MPs who won their seat from an opponent – without the benefit of a desk, staff, computers or indeed any of the apparatus you need to run an office. After some incredibly hard work by my team, by some wonderful volunteers and by me, we got on top of the backlog and have since been getting on with the job.”
“It is wonderful for me and my team to be, at last, in a place of our own. Immediately after the election, we of course had no office in Ipswich, so operated out of a private family house. As this had children living in it, I did not want to use it as a postal address or to have meetings there. Instead, we made use of some of the excellent venues in the town centre. We found 9 Fore Street within a month of the election, but the negotiations took much longer than I anticipated. Then we had to wait for planning permission for change of use – which also took time. So in July we moved into temporary accommodation in IpCity Centre, where we stayed until December.”
“It has been a time of tremendous upheaval for my small team. Coordinating two office moves in the space of six months is no easy feat, particularly whilst endeavouring to respond personally to more than 2,500 separate enquiries by constituents since 7th May. I am very proud that we have come this far. We look forward to welcoming the people of Ipswich at 9 Fore Street, where, with my team, I will continue to work hard in Ipswich, for Ipswich.”
Ipswich Spy hope to be able to get a correspondent along to the opening, so hopefully we can give you some more photo’s in a gallery over the weekend. We recognise just how different it has been for Mr Gummer to set up an office in Ipswich, since unlike his predecessor he has to set up a completely new office whilst Mr Mole had the basic infrastructure left behind by the late Jamie Cann.