A welcome change?
This Newsletter comes to you together with the booklet about the Society's Annual General Meeting. For many voluntary organisations, the AGM is a tedious necessity. Yes, it does have an important role to play when people can ask questions, express pleasure or displeasure, and vote for or against those who run the society on behalf of its members. But when members are broadly satisfied with the progress of their society, AGMs are not exactly exciting occasions. The Ipswich Society has long been mindful of that, so in the past we have arranged little talks and slide shows to lighten the evening. Now we wish to go further and make the AGM more of a social occasion when people can talk with each other and discuss matters with members of the Committee. Our new venue, the upstairs hall of the Museum Street Methodist Church, should help to make a more congenial evening. See the back pace for more details.
New buildings and the wheel of fortune
Photographs of the steel frames of the TXU building and Ipswich Town Football Club's North Stand were splashed on the front cover of our April 2002 Newsletter. They represented the town's brave new world. In the January issue it had to be admitted that that world had collapsed with TXU taken over and the building abandoned, and with ITFC relegated and struggling in the First Division - and now in temporary administration.
However, the news that Suffolk County Council is to acquire and occupy the TXU building surely represents an important upturn. It Is appropriate for the County Council's HQ to remain within the county town and good for the economy of Ipswich that it will do so. No doubt, snack bars and other service facilities will gravitate to the area, all helping to boost the Borough Council's vision of an "Ipswich Village" in that part of town. These new facilities should coalesce with the redevelopment of the West End Road surface car park which will be a 1000 space multi-storey car park with a hotel near Princes Street bridge.
As for ITFC, there is indeed a lot to play for. The stadium has been successfully upgraded but of course its continued full use will depend upon success on the pitch - a more unpredictable operation than the workings of the County Council! But different as they are. success in both camps would bring considerable benefits to the town.
Manage the traffic!
My previous Editorial in January referred to congestion charging in Singapore. Since then, congestion charging has begun in London watched carefully1by many elsewhere. It's probably unlikely that such charges would be introduced in a medium-sized town like Ipswich. But I'm surprised that nobody has sent me letters on that subject. And there was only one letter on the whole question of traffic management in central Ipswich. Is it that most members accept what has been done? Or think that there's no point in sounding off because the authorities don't listen?
Measures such as congestion charging raise even more sharply the dilemmas facing all historic towns. Since buildings aren't going to be bulldozed to make wider roads and out-of-town one-stop shopping is here to stay, how do you get car-owners to come into town to do their shopping and use the leisure and entertainment facilities? The range and quality of shops which members of a society like ours would like to see enhanced will always depend upon the custom of fairly affluent people. Specialist wine shops, delicatessen and large florists, for example. only open up where they can rely on regular customers who spend quite a lot of money. That in turn usually necessitates reasonably easy access for cars and/or very frequent and top quality public transport. More easily said than done, I'm afraid. The one certainty is that traffic must be managed. It can't just go on as in the 20th century!
Please let me have all material for the next Newsletter by 20 May. The more the better!
NEIL SALMON 16 Wamington Road, Ipswich, IP1 3QU