Crown Car Park welcome but a little late
The proposed 3-storey car park with 522 spaces should be a big improvement on the old multi-storey car park which had to be demolished in 2010. It will help to boost the use of the town centre, especially if the access on foot to Tower Ramparts is better. But it's unfortunate that completion is likely to be just after Christmas 2017.
The importance of ‘affordable' homes
The term ‘affordable' has been much stretched to suggest a solution to the housing crisis of shortages and sky-high prices. Nevertheless, isn't it true that we owe it to our grandchildren and their children to make it possible to own or rent a decent sized home? So it is quite understandable that there is the priority of 41 ‘affordables' for the planned 60 home development on the former Tooks Bakery site (off Old Norwich Road) and that other developments like the Northern Fringe should have a significant proportion of ‘affordable' homes. All this is in addition to IBC's own council house building.
Park & Ride
The ongoing saga of Park & Ride continues with both Councils making noises as to why changes are being made, why the contract with the bus company is changing again and why it is failing to pay its own way.
Reading the papers for Suffolk County Council Executive Committee however it becomes obvious that the real reason is the ongoing squabble between SCC and IBC. The provision of Park & Ride is a really delicate balance between the provision of sufficient ‘in town' parking to ensure that the retail economy works but charging at a level that causes visitors to use P&R. The provision of a service should be sufficiently frequent to reduce the waiting time to a few minutes but not running empty buses during quieter periods and to ensure journey times are minimised by allowing the bus to skip the traffic queues (bus lanes, bus activated traffic lights) without causing the motorist undue delays.
The five year contract with Ipswich Buses to run the present system was agreed in 2013 but will terminate in July 2017 with the replacement contract being awarded to First Bus. The real loser in all of this is Ipswich itself, Suffolk's county town.
You will have read elsewhere in this Newsletter (page 8) that members of the Executive Committee visited the Buttermarket Centre in November to observe progress on the conversion to a cinema and bowling alley (part of the centre has already been converted into a gym).
There have been a number of planning applications changing the number of cinemas to be constructed (12), and the number of lanes the Bowling Alley will provide (24). Amongst the many superlatives the contractor shared he was unsure, whilst we were walking round, how many people would be accommodated when it was all up and running. My guess is in the region of 1,350 (assuming full capacity - this almost never happens in a multiplex; the blockbuster attracts the numbers, the other screens are showing, by definition, less popular films). I'm sure it will be a success, and a real asset to the town. The new restaurants are already attracting customers into the centre of Ipswich during the early evening quiet spell (4.30 - 7.30pm).
FoIM appeal for volunteers
Are you interested in Christchurch Mansion, concerned about what's happening in the Museum, wondering why Ipswich's Museum Service is managed from Colchester? Are the right artefacts on display, why are so many pictures hidden away, what days do they open? The Friends of Ipswich Museums are looking for new Committee members to help ensure Ipswich has museums of which we can be proud, museums that are used because they are interesting and celebrate the history of Ipswich and more over thousands of years. http://friendsofipswichmuseums.org.uk/