Perhaps that’s a naughty headline really, however all my comments seem to be moderated away to a dark place at the moment due to “other”.
The sheer, stunning coincidence that two major big money investments in Ipswich are revealed within a couple of days of each other, and an election just around the corner on 4th May. Hopefully the people of Ipswich can see past the hyperbole and spin to which we are being subjected. My mind is spinning as to the possibilities of the next few days. Will the Borough discover the goose that lays golden eggs? Ben Gummer will probably announce he’s found a field filled with magical unicorns (likely to lie across all the proposed routes of the northern bypass), and the Anglia LEP will suddenly spot that East Anglia is more than just Norwich. Admittedly they are all fantasies – particularly the last one – but this is the sort of nonsense that we as a town have put up with for years. Do you recall that this very paper declared on the day that the logo changed they would hold our local representatives to task over nonsense like this? This is our money. These are people who are responsible to us, and yet they fritter away millions of pounds on pretty drawings and press conferences, then plead poverty every March when the Council Tax bills come in. Maybe Mr Gummer can help his local constituents out in his role as Paymaster General by clearly explaining how his government can justify the massive rises in business tax which are more of a threat to a town like Ipswich and its surrounding villages, than not having some concrete statues on the Cornhill. I’d like to read that in the Star. Perhaps they could send Paul Geater to ask the important questions? Remember who it is that is wasting your money in these times of supposed austerity, and kick them out in May. I have the greatest of respect for Roger Fern as Mayor, but I welcome the announcement that Sarah Barber will soon be taking over. I have no particular political preference for, but my hope is that someone young and enthusiastic can help drag this town into the light and make local government see sense. Ipswich is not capable of competing with Cambridge, Norwich, or even Bury. Once the idea that we can is out of everyone’s minds and we can develop to become our own centre for shopping and socialising, we can start to shine. Ipswich has been disregarded by the County Council for years and pie-in-the-sky plans for public spaces like this don’t help, especially when it seems like it was handed out to someone’s friends to design.
When growing up I was often told to “keep it simple, stupid”. What Ipswich needs to do is to follow this oft ignored mantra. If you want to attract people into the centre of the town, soften it. Ipswich is a town with more parkland per head than anywhere else in the country, so why is there no greenery in the town centre? All I can see here is concrete which will rapidly become outdated and look tired. Simplify it, soften the area, make it pleasant to sit in and for people to admire Ipswich’s historic architecture. As people have commented, add trees, add shrubs, add benches so people can take time. Keep it simple, keep it manageable, make it pleasant. If you put up concrete “celebratory columns” that people can drunkenly attempt to climb then people will drunkenly attempt to climb it (and if they can’t climb it then they will use it when they are ‘caught short’ in between visits to pubs). Maybe I could get behind the scheme if one of these concrete lumps had a neon sign on it that spelled “The Mill” and pieces fell off it in the lightest of winds? Sure, flatten the area so that it can be used for outside performance, art, theatre, or small concerts, but don’t waste a further £3m on something that will need to be constantly checked up on and repaired. Think Arras Place, but with actual parking restrictions. We can all remember what the thugs of this town decided to do some of the Pigs Gone Wild statues, this would be a playground for them. And forget about putting the market there. We can’t have the area smelling of that fish stall and covered in the filth that market day brings. Ipswich is a mediaeval town and its roads are narrow. How about some ‘outside the box’ thinking and setting up an indoor market somewhere? If only we had a giant, mainly empty department store in town with plenty of room for its current occupants and more small, independent retailers who could do with some town centre exposure in a shared area. It could come with easy access for pick ups, parking and deliveries, and would drive people to an end of the town that needs reviving? If only…