Let me begin by thanking you for your wonderful response to the Society's membership survey which accompanied the October Newsletter. There were sceptics (some on the Committee) who forecast a very poor response, In the event you proved them wildly wrong because we have had nearly 400 responses already. Not only is this a magnificent result, it is the more gratifying in that so many of you offered help in a variety of ways - over 100 of you in fact! I have allocated these to various Committee members and you should be contacted very soon to thank you and explain how you might be able to assist the Society. It is interesting to note that our questionnaire has raised great interest among other Civic Trust societies and many have asked for copies of our form. We are of course pleased (but not surprised) that The Ipswich Society has set the pace for other societies.
At the time of writing, the Society has just completed its meeting in the Town Hall about a possible East Bank Link Road. I will not write in detail about this event which you will find covered elsewhere in the Newsletter. What I would like to say is simply that for those present I gather it was much appreciated as a means of airing the arguments on the subject, pros and cons. The two sides invited to make presentations found it very helpful and I have had several requests from members to hold more such events. Almost certainly we shall repeat the event on the subject of the housing development proposed at Westerfield.
Earlier in November we held our Awards evening which incorporated many changes. You may remember it was our intention (and your wish) to make the event more prestigious. We therefore changed the venue, using the Suffolk College (with food provided by their Catering and Hospitality students). The event was greatly appreciated by all those present, and this has encouraged us to use this venue next year. Furthermore, the College has expressed a wish to be associated with this Awards event on an ongoing basis as sponsors of the event. Your Committee is delighted to accept this offer and next year the event should be even more prestigious, with better publicity. You as members should rest assured that parking at the College is easy, and as we used the main Lecture Theatre just off the foyer, access within the College could not be simpler. Suggestions were made at the event that perhaps it should be in future an open public meeting, and not simply an event for members, and this is a development that your Committee welcomes and will examine with care, but it does seem likely that we shall be having some public meetings in future.
You will recall the interest we have all had in encouraging some kind of Visitors'/Henitage/ Maritime Centre on the Waterfront. The issue has not died but has been quietly worked upon in the background. I am very pleased to announce that a full-scale Feasibility Study is about to be commissioned, funded by EEDA, the East of England Development Agency. This is just about to go out to selected organisations to compete for the work and a consultant should be chosen, with the study being completed in late spring 2003. This is enormously satisfying, and although there is a long way to go and many hurdles to be overcome, it has given a great boost to the project. A positive study should indicate clearly the way forward and this should make it more feasible to gain backing for the project to be realised.
Finally, let me use the opportunity to wish you a fruitful New Year.