Following lengthy campaigning by the Ipswich Society and over 2,000 respondents to the Borough Council's public consultation the proposals for ‘levelling' the Cornhill are being revised.
The Society consulted widely with its membership for both the first set of proposals, and for the revised scheme issued earlier this year. Our stance from the beginning has been that we are not against change, not against refurbishment (a carpet that has been walked on for thirty years is bound to look a bit frayed) but we were against a scheme that effectively halves the space for assemblies in the centre of town (and in this case assembly very clearly includes the market).
David Ellesmere and others on the ‘Vision Partnership' have recognised that the
overwhelming voice of public opinion was against the proposals (in our opinion there was no great difference between scheme 1 and scheme 2). The revision did not address our, and that of many others, fundamental criticism. That is, that although the scheme would improve access to the ground floor of the Town Hall it would seriously curtail the free flow of pedestrians, wheelchairs and perambulators across the open space.
To quote David Ellesmere from his press release “I think it's probably likely that we won't go forward with exactly the scheme that we went out to consultation on”. David, and Hall McKnight if you're listening, the basis of both scheme 1 and scheme 2 is wrong and a complete revision, including access to the Town Hall is required. It might be worthwhile asking the Statutory Consultees before any further work is undertaken of their requirements and limitations, (Suffolk CC Highways for the line of the Public Highway, Heritage England in respect of the listed buildings, the Emergency Services for their requirements in terms of access for fire appliances and ambulances and the disabled access group about steps and ramps, amongst others).
There is also a considerable amount of public opinion that the business case does not correspond with the cost of the proposed investment (some £3.5 million pounds).
Next, a big thank you to everyone who took part in, or helped to organise Heritage Open Days, almost every venue and historic building open to the public reported record numbers, inquisitive interest and a wide age range of participants. It was the Ipswich Society's most successful event ever.
I should particularly mention the flyer which was widely distributed to numerous establishments up to 90 minutes travel time from Ipswich, and the superb booklet which became available closer to home from mid-August.
Special thanks to our Treasurer, Graham Smith, and designer, Su Heath, for getting both flyer and booklet together and ready for distribution on time, and thanks to the team of helpers who travelled far and wide ensuring that East Anglia knew Ipswich was holding the event.
A quick reminder that the Ipswich Society Annual Awards evening will take place next month (November 16) providing there are sufficient nominations to make judging worthwhile. I'm sure that there are still projects that we've missed and you've just got time to phone, or email Tony Marsden with a reminder (contact details on page 27). Don't assume somebody else has already nominated it; better to receive two calls than to miss a potential winner.
I am heartened this month by the ban, by York City Council, of ‘A' boards in the city streets, and by the campaign led by Griff Rhys Jones for the removal of inappropriate roadside advertising. Attaching a 48 sheet poster to the side of an abandoned artic trailer and dumping it where it can best be seen by passing motorists flaunts the most basic of planning guidelines, and blights the countryside.
The reason they remain is a quirk in the law that quite reasonably allows the name of the company to be attached to the side of their vehicles, allows farmers to park agricultural machinery wherever they deem necessary (on their own land) and providing the offending ‘bill board' has wheels (however rusty) it technically remains a vehicle.
Drive south via the A12 or around the M25 through Essex and such eyesores abound. They could and should be removed; the Highways Act specifically forbids hoardings alongside main roads in rural areas.
I studied marketing as a student so I should know the rationale and advantages of ‘A' boards. Like all advertising they are designed to draw attention to your business. As Chairman of the local Civic Society I hold that they are a major contributor to street clutter, they are an obstruction to the unhindered passage of pedestrians and a visual intrusion into the street scene.
Well done York City Council; take note Essex County Highways.