I was on the Waterfront the other day, making arrangements with a restaurant owner for a summer barbecue, when it occurred to me that one reason why this part of town is so successful is because of local ownership. Independent businesses that work for the local economy, employ local people and contribute to the community.
On Waterfronts elsewhere, Newcastle, Bristol, and Cardiff Bay the multinationals dominate. You will be familiar with the names, the retail outlets of the major international breweries and familiar with the products they sell, fizzy yellow beer and microwave meals. In Ipswich there is variety, establishments that really do cater for the local market. And even most of the developers today are local: John Howard with the Wine Rack, Max Hembury with St Peter's Port and Aiden Coughlan with Isaacs. The first marina was instigated by a local entrepreneur, Alan Swann, who went on to build Neptune Apartments.
There are other independent and local businesses; the estate agents and café owners are local, as is the first retail outlet, Tony Coe's John Russell Art Gallery in Wherry Lane and the first (and best) hotel in town, Robert Gough's Salthouse Harbour. I fear it may not last: success brings other opportunists. J.D. Wetherspoon are looking for premises and Marston's Piano and Pitcher had first option on a unit in Regatta Quay.
No space this issue for a full report on the Maritime Conference held in the UCS Waterfront Building on 21st May but it was a full and comprehensive day, well-organised and appreciated. A special mention of Stephanie Valentine, Marketing Manager of Topsail Charters; she had the audience gripped with her explanations of how she has developed a commercial business out of what otherwise would be some old Thames barges, how she sells the business to ‘millennials' (18-34 year olds) and how she is able to let the barges out in the cooler months as well as on the warm summer days.