Some of you will have heard of my accident when I fell over at
the unveiling of "The Navigator" sculpture by the river. I damaged my face
and rated a few lines in the local press. I have made a good recovery, and
although I was told my nose was broken, I don't think it is apparent now the
swelling has gone down. The sculpture was commissioned by the River Action
Group, which as you know is closely linked to the Society and is indeed a
daughter organisation which has done an enormous amount of improvement to
the river above Stoke Bridge, including the improved footpath and cycle
path. Its Chairman, Tom Gondris, was speaking about the sculpture when I
caused my commotion. There were some rude remarks made about the lengths I
had to go to in order to get Tom to stop speaking!
This year we held our AGM at the new venue for Winter Lectures, the
Methodist Church Hall in Museum Street. This is a very convenient venue with
parking available and it can accommodate a good sized group. We were however
very surprised to be told by the caretaker as we were preparing for the
event on the evening that wine would not be allowed. There had been no
mention of this restriction previously. In the event we managed with soft
drinks but it has always been a feature of our AGM to offer a glass of wine
to members. The Executive Committee has therefore decided to hold AGMs in
future at the Suffolk College, where we had such a successful Awards
evening. So in future all Winter Lectures will be held at Museum Street, and
the Awards and AGM both held at the College.
The Waterside continues to develop and takes a good deal of our time. The
marina on the Island site owned by ABP has been granted a small extension
towards the lock gates making the area now very full of expensive fibreglass.
We have warned that future expansion will be objected to by the Society. The
new hotel on the site of Good's old warehouse is just about to open - the
Salthouse Harbour Hotel. It is owned and run by the people who own the
Marlborough in Henley Road which will close and become housing. The hotel is
a welcome addition to the Waterfront, although we are currently fighting
with the planners about whether goods vehicles should access the site from
Fore Street or the quayside.
The Waterfront Visitors'Attraction Study is proceeding on time. An interim
report indicated that the consultants believe the scheme will be marketable
and hope to produce a report which clearly indicates the way forward, not
least to include funding arrangements. They have consulted with over 30
groups/individuals and are actively considering themes which include
Anglo-Saxon origins, the American connection, Wolsey and the Reformation,
and the Maritime connection. The final report is due in the summer and
members will be made aware of its conclusions.
The Westerfield housing scheme is proceeding and many of you will have
visited one of the consultation sessions held in various locations. The
Society's initial position is that given a serious effort is being made to
utilise brownfield sites wherever possible and given the Government's
insistence on massive increases in house building, then reluctantly we have
to accept the development. We are concerned at its final size and the
quality of the layout/design, but also the suitability of the present road
system to cope with the considerable extra traffic such a development would
generate. We shall pursue these concems with vigour as the scheme emerges.
It is also extremely likely that we shall hold a well publicised special
meeting to discuss the proposals.
At the time of writing the Suffolk Show is imminent and the weather seems
set fine. The Society once again will have a presence in the Suffolk
Preservation Society marquee, ably manned by a group of our members. This
helps to make the Society known to a wider audience.
Our "routine" work continues steadily - monitoring planning applications,
lobbying and influencing policy on various bodies (including MPs) and
generally ensuring that as Ipswich develops it becomes a better place in
which to live, and not a worse one.