A big thank you to all members who confirmed my appointment as Chairman of the Society at the AGM in April. It is a privilege and an honour and I will do my best to serve the Society and its members. I follow in some illustrious footsteps, most recently those of Jack Chapman who served the Society as a member of the Executive Committee and Chairman for a score or more years. Jack's quiet unassuming style has proved an asset for the Society and I thank him wholeheartedly for his dedication. He is already proving to be a valuable mentor.
In the opening lines I promised to do my best for the Society but I cannot do this alone and the work of the Executive Committee still needs some volunteer help. We would welcome occasional offers in such diverse roles as strategic planning, leaflet production and distribution (such as the recent stand on the Cornhill where we informed passers-by of the valuable work the Society does in Ipswich) and in practical activity (such as the distribution of the Newsletter). There is a long-standing 'open invitation' for you to attend meetings of the Executive Committee as an observer. As these meetings are currently held at Suffolk New College there is plenty of room.
My main activity since the AGM has been the consideration of a Master Plan for the Northern Fringe. New planning regulations (NPPF) give the developer assumed permission for a sustainable development, to their specification if there is no 'local development scheme' in place. To this end Ipswich Borough Council invited four interested parties to comment and provide a draft I0 point plan for inclusion in the Master Plan. The four organisations are Westerfield Parish Council, the Northern Fringe Protection Group, Save Our Country Spaces and The Ipswich Society.
After extensive consideration and discussion with the Northern Fringe Protection Group we have put forward some points for consideration by the Borough's strategic planners. I am fully aware that a substantial number of members, particularly those in close proximity to the proposed development and its obvious access routes, have reservations but the Executive have responded on the basis that the development is going ahead, albeit over a period of time likely to be set by the economic climate rather than by the planners, and on the basis that further brownfield re-development must take place before building on green spaces.
Continuing a tradition set by Jack, I have met with the Chief Executive of the Borough Council, once in Grafton House and once in the Tourist Information Centre. On both occasions he was being shadowed for the day by another employee, open government in action, not least because the outcome of both meetings was fruitful, opening further avenues for dialogue with other officers.
Finally, the need to communicate with you individually between the publications of the Newsletters becomes ever more apparent and consequently we would value your e-mail address. Please correspond with the Secretary electronically and you will be added to those already receiving occasional notices.