Members will perhaps remember that R.A.G. was spawned by the Environment Protection Panel on which I represent the Society. Its main active members are from Ipswich Wildlife Group, Sustrans, the Inland Waterways Association, Greenways, the Museum and IBC Regeneration and Planning personnel. Fellow Ipswich Society member, John Ireland, represents local cyclists.
What has been achieved so far? Our principal success, I feel, is the adoption by the Borough Council of our Strategy Document. This called for all housing development along the upriver frontage from Stoke Bridge to include the provision of either separate cycle routes and footpaths or a combined path if necessary.
Those interested should walk upriver from behind the Ministry of Defence site up to the first railway bridge. They will see large stretches of completed paths which have all been provided by the developers. Beyond this bridge the Ipswich and Norwich Co-operative Society have provided a 5 metre width of land by setting their outer fencing back where this has been possible. Improvements to the paths have yet to take place in this area.
A completely new section of the cycle path has been created between Princes Street bridge and West End Road. This passes through what will become a picnic site where our Lottery-funded Navigator sculpture (featured in the July 2003 Newsletter) has been erected.
The Ipswich Wildlife Group, on behalf of R.A.G., has now obtained a substantial further Lottery grant which is paying for the development of this picnic area and for the production of seven information boards showing what is being, or has been, achieved between the start of our section of the path at Stoke Bridge and Alderman Canal. An additional grant from the Nationwide Building Society will help to pay for a further work of art to mark this start at Stoke Bridge.
An indirect result of our activities has been the creation of a skateboard park at Stoke Bridge. R.A.G. gave the initial impetus to the Borough Council's providing the land and R.A.G. undertook the development of the adjacent pocket park. There are many problems associated with the skateboard park, mainly to do with litter, graffiti etc but there is no doubt that this new facility is popular with young people of our town.
One of our constant concerns is the whole question of cleanliness, including dog fouling. We do have regular river clean-ups, but sadly we are a dirty nation, and it is up to organisations such as our Society to keep up the effort to educate the public.
On a final note, we continue our efforts to provide a River Centre, possibly associated with an Environmental Centre, along the river frontage. One day we'll see boating on the river again.