As I write, the town is gearing up for the Christmas period.
Naturally it is not expected to be a bumper Christmas, in the midst
of austerity. Some towns have even abandoned Christmas lights
but fortunately not Ipswich. The retail position is not good and
there are a number of shops (some large) which have closed, but
it is important to keep a sense of proportion. Even in this bleak
economic climate, there are signs of optimism. New shops are
opening, although the headlines concentrate on the ones closing. A
shining example of faith in the future is Coe's newly completed re-
vamp and its purchase of the former Hare and Hounds pub opposite
in order to extend its business; building work has already begun.
There is also the arrival of Waitrose in the Corn Exchange which
should bring many more people into the town centre. Unlike larger
supermarkets on the edges of towns, with lavish car parking, this
Waitrose will rely on shoppers on foot who may well be expected to
do other shopping in the town centre.
The John Lewis proposed development of the old Crane's site
on Nacton Road is progressing. They have applied for planning
permission for a John Lewis At Home store, another Waitrose and
there will be other proposals for this very large site.
In accordance with the Government's policy of decentralisation,
the Cabinet recently visited Ipswich, where they met Ipswich MP,
Ben Gummer. Unfortunately security concerns prevented their
meeting in Ipswich centre, and their main meeting took place at
BT in Martlesham, but some ministers individually visited many
organisations in the town, including businesses and schools. It was
also good to note that they travelled by train - standard class -
although this gave ammunition to those who claimed the whole visit
was a publicity stunt!
Soon after the unveiling of the Wolsey sculpture (which has just
won a Society award) the town has another piece of public art
outside UCS on the Waterfront. This, however, is much more
controversial than Wolsey! It includes a large question mark on its
side and has been the subject of much debate in the town and the
press. The Society's view is that the more sculpture the better and
the more discussion generated the better.
More good news concerns Broomhill Pool. IBC have decided to back
the project and developers are being approached to undertake
the work, subject to successful grant applications. The clock tower
would be reinstated but it seems there may not be enough money
to make it a heated pool. Still, the future is much brighter than it
Finally, belated good news about our History. It is now completed
and is in its final edit. You should hear more in the New Year.
I hope you all will have enjoyed a peaceful Christmas.