Ben's latest Ipswich Star Column

Now here's a test: let's see if BT made it as the first item on Look East or Anglia News, or the front page of the Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times recently.

If not, it shows how skewed our news priorities can be - as an announcement made by BT yesterday could possibly be one of the most important for the long term economic prosperity of our town in some years. Here's why.

BT has announced that it will buy the mobile operator EE for £12.5 billion, signalling that BT is back in the mobile game again. It's been a while.

BT's history is interesting: one of the first big privatizations of the Thatcher years, it did well for a while but then suffered from poor senior management who made a number of very silly decisions. The worst was to split out 02, as a separate company - meaning that BT could not take part in the rapidly expanding world of mobile communications during the last decade. The purchase yesterday puts right this mistake. BT will now be the first genuine 'quad-play' communications business in the market - able to offer mobile, fixed line, internet and television.

What's this got to do with Ipswich? Well, back in 2000 it was BT Cellnet that launched the world's first General Packet Radio Service - the service that allows mobile 'phones to send and receive data, the foundation of all the marvels that we can now do on our iPhones and Samsung smart phones. And guessed where much of the development for GPRS took place? Yep - it's down the road in BT's research labs in Martlesham. It is at what is known now as Adastral Park that so much of what we now take for granted - fibre optic cables, TV down the 'phone lines, home shopping - was first developed.

With BT prospering, it can only mean good things for Martlesham and - therefore - for Ipswich. BT is one of the biggest employers in the

town and its influence is everywhere. No longer a medium-sized fixed line company, BT is morphing into a media and communications giant. That is exciting for BT and exciting for Ipswich. It is precisely the kind of opportunity we should be grabbing with both hands - banging down the door of BT HQ to see what else they can send our way. I shall be leading the charge.

I spent a fascinating morning at Ipswich Hospital last week, with a large part of the board, the clinical heads and with my colleague Therese Coffey. We discussed the finances of the hospital - which are improving but still face challenges in the years ahead. We talked about specialist services, which are returning and offering some of the best outcomes in the country. And we talked about winter, where the hospital has outperformed almost everyone else in A&E waiting times. There is much, much to do to make things better still, but we should be proud of our hospital. Just remember, not so long ago it was bankrupt and specialist services were leaving every few months. What a difference a few years makes. Well done everyone at Heath Road - you are doing a fantastic job.

Whilst we are on great care, I want to lift up Prince of Wales House, which has just received an 'Outstanding' inspection from the Care Quality Commission. Shows what can be done with great people and a positive vision.