7 reasons why Ipswich is brilliant
PUBLISHED: 15:57 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 19:49 04 August 2019
Brilliant is not often a word that I hear often used about Ipswich. But it should be.
I have been this newspaper's Ipswich editor for just over a year. I have lived in, worked in, visited and reported on a vast range of towns and cities during my life and career - some rich, some deprived; some on the up, some in decline.
While I'm certainly no town planning expert, I like to think I have a good idea of what works - what's a happy community and what's a place that's yearning for change.
It should be said that nowhere is perfect. All places have their failings, all have things people want to be different. Ipswich is certainly no different.
When I looked around the town properly on starting my current job, one of the first things I saw was the Winerack development. The tower block, which for many years had been left to stand empty, seemed to symbolise a town with great aspirations which hadn't come to fruition - although it should be said apartments at the Winerack are now, after many years, preparing to open.
Ipswich does not seem to engender the same pride that its neighbours, Norwich and Cambridge, enjoy. Too often (wrongly, in my view) it is talked about in negative terms - something symbolised by one Suffolk councillor's comment of "that cesspit down the road", which seemed to refer to Ipswich.
Some of the criticism is justified, if not the cesspit comment. Figures show, for example, that knife crime is a scourge of the town and not only causes hurt and destruction, but leaves people feeling unsafe about where they live.
Yet even with the challenges in Ipswich which there undoubtedly are, there are tremendous positives which in my view mean Ipswich far outranks many towns of its size.
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Below are a few, which by no means form an exhaustive list but I believe show the town in the light it deserves.
If there is one mission we all have in Ipswich, it is to unashamedly champion these things - while of course pressuring those in power to fix its problems and challenges, so they can maybe one day be turned into positives.
Whatever your feelings about Ipswich, I hope at least some of the below strikes a chord.
■ The landscape - roads are not often things of beauty, but even the Orwell Bridge provides a breathtaking view of Ipswich's landscape. Whereas many towns and cities are lucky to have one park, Ipswich has several open spaces - from Chantry Park where Ed Sheeran will perform this summer, to Holywells and Christchurch parks, there are no shortage of green areas to unwind.
■ Good connections - Ipswich is within easy reach of the likes of London, Cambridge and Norwich, making it not only a great place to live but somewhere you can access the rest of the country.
■ Historic architecture - while many towns' historic architecture has all but vanished, Ipswich still has some priceless gems. The Town Hall, Christchurch Mansion at St Mary-Le-Tower are all worth a visit.
■ A great football club - it may be down at the moment, but Ipswich Town has an illustrious history which will always make it the lifeblood of the town. The fact so many people are standing by the Blues in hard times shows just what it means to fans.
■ Opportunities - as well as its easy access to other cities, Ipswich itself is full of opportunities. In the past decade the University of Suffolk has equipped many with the skills to fulfil their dreams - and with the likes of Birketts, Axa Insurance and Willis all having major bases, there are chances aplenty.
■ The Waterfront - this really is the jewel in Ipswich's crown. It's stunning to look at, is steeped in history, is one of the most desirable places to live and has become a go-to place for a night out. What more could you want?
■ The people - it is the people who make any place thrive, and Ipswich is fortunate to have so many community-spirited people fighting its corner. Their dedication to making Ipswich even better should mean the town has a bright future.