I am aware that although I am writing this column at the end of November it will be well into January before you have the opportunity to read it. However, a happy, healthy and successful New Year to you all.
That might beg the question of how we measure success, a question I have been pondering in respect of the debate we are currently having about the Northern Fringe development. After considerable deliberation, with arguments both for and against individual aspects of the project, there are still politicians who are suggesting that we have not been focused, that the proposals aren't good enough and if others had done the Master Planning it would be better.
Such comments are relatively easy from the outside without consideration of the financial constraints, the topography or the predictions of where residents will be employed and how they will travel.
The Northern Fringe Community Steering Panel on which The Ipswich Society is represented (I am Vice-Chairman) continue to meet on a monthly basis, have taken the opportunity to visit Milton Keynes and Cambourne (near Cambridge), both new developments with good and poor components and have deliberated for hours in Grafton House. The exhibition of Options is taking place as this Newsletter is published (see below).
The second Beacon Town conference took place with Sir Stuart Rose delivering a much heralded keynote address on the future of Ipswich Town Centre. His suggestion of moving the market caused much press comment and my own report occurs later in this Newsletter.
The Griff Rhys Jones lecture was a very full and enlightening evening with the President of Civic Voice in fine form. Griff started on a lighter note but was soon into the serious matters of urban sustainability. Neil's report elsewhere in this Newsletter gives a comprehensive account and Ruth Stokes' 'Puzzled' comments are worth a read. A very special thank you to Vice-President Chris Wiltshire who introduced the evening with a short slide show from our newly digitalised slide collection.
I am indebted to another of our Vice-Presidents, Bob Allen, for all his contributions to our Awards evening. He turned what could have been a fairly dull list of 'also ran' nominations into a lively thought-provoking evening. The judges found three worthy winners which were featured in a full page article in the local press. Here the lack of understanding of the link between the Question Mark on the University piazza and the electronic display on top of the concrete chimney across the road was highlighted; the published photo had been cropped to exclude the LEDs on the chimney.
Both Mike Cook and I were asked again to contribute to the adjudication of the Civic Trust awards - Mike in Essex and myself in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It really does open your eyes as to what is possible in these austere times. The results will be announced in Cardiff in the spring.
There is a massive sway away from Civic Societies, particularly at national and rural levels (CPRE and Friends of the Lake District both have declining numbers) and many are struggling in their current form. This trend is causing Civic Voice concerns and the Executive of this Society have debated the need for a national campaigning organisation.