2010 was a very enjoyab1e year for many of our members as we celebrated our half century. It was very gratifying that the range of events and venues helped to attract such a good proportion of our 1200 members. Much of the programme was masterminded and run by Tony and Su Marsden who deserve the Society's warmest thanks.
But it is clear that there will be big new challenges ahead as well as more of the old. As our local authorities become more squeezed financially there will be consequences for Ipswich. Suffolk County Council's determination to 'divest' itself of many of its responsibilities will throw up questions and problems. Radical changes to the planning system brought in by the Government will also have a noticeable effect. Moreover, the Government's emphasis on a 'Big Society' seems aimed in part at the multiplicity of charities, of which we are one. Mike Brain's article in this issue begins to address the implications of the' Big Society' inspired by the conference he attended in Chester. But I can't help thinking that if the 'Big Society' is to rely on volunteers, they will pick and choose what they want to do, and some things won't be chosen: whereas local authorities have to cater for both the rough and the smooth.
A few words about Giles Circus. You will see elsewhere in this issue that the Society gave an Award of Distinction to this scheme. I know that there are some members who were surprised or disagreed with this decision. Margaret Hancock's letter on page 22 cogently expresses her disagreement. I wasn't one of the judges and don't claim to know all their reasons. But can't we agree that Ipswich with its tight medieval street pattern is very short of public spaces apart from the Cornhill, so Giles Circus makes a second one? And whether or not you like Giles's Grandma statue, it is surely unique? So, making a prominent feature of it contributes to Ipswich's uniqueness and makes us less of a 'clone town', an accusation often levelled at England's towns and cities. In short, Giles Circus has become a place instead of a mere road junction. However, people are entitled to their opinions and the Newsletter will continue to reflect our differences as well as the issues on which most of us agree.