Association vows to find new centre

IPSWICH: We will survive! That was the defiant message today from Ipswich Carribean Association founder Albert Grant as he tried to pick up the pieces after the closure of the town’s International Carribean Centre.

That was the defiant message today from Ipswich Caribbean Association founder Albert Grant as he tried to pick up the pieces after the closure of the town’s International Community Centre.

Borough funding for the centre was cut off earlier this year after it failed to reach an agreement on a new business plan – and the centre in Woodbridge Road was forced to close its doors earlier this month.

Now insolvency specialists McTear Williams & Wood have been called in to help the ICA wind up its management company.

Mr Grant, who helped set up the ICA in the 1970s, later became mayor of Ipswich, and was awarded the OBE for his work on community relations, said it was vital that its work should continue.

He said: “We are looking for somewhere to establish a centre for all the minority ethnic communities who live and work in the area. There are now many more communities – as well as the African Caribbean community, there are Kurdish people, Iranians, and many other communities.

“The town needs somewhere that can be a focal point for everyone. We shall continue and look at how we can set up a centre for all these communities.”

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A statement released on behalf of the ICA said: “The decision taken by Ipswich Borough Council in March of this year not to forward outstanding grant aid for 2009/2010 and to discontinue future grant aid was the main catalyst leading to the closure decision.

“It is also acknowledged that financial difficulties have been ongoing for some time and recent events at the centre and the ensuing negative press have impacted on the viability of the Association.

“The centre has been a landmark; it has catered for a generation; it has been a precious focal point for the African Caribbean community catering for all ages and varying interests from sports to education, offering a sense of belonging.

“The ICA board of management would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the members of the ICA, to thank all who have given their unwavering support throughout the years.”

There was an alleged shooting at the club in December after a fight broke out.

n What are your memories of the International Community Centre? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN .