Cafe closure defies logic

I'M SLIGHTLY bemused by Ipswich council's decision to close the café at Crown Pools – frankly the decision looks totally crazy and an admission of failure by the borough.

I'M SLIGHTLY bemused by Ipswich council's decision to close the café at Crown Pools – frankly the decision looks totally crazy and an admission of failure by the borough.

The café is being closed because it's losing money. But swimming facilities across the country lose money.

Crown Pools as a whole costs hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to run – if you really wanted to stem losses the only thing to do is close the place down altogether.

That is clearly an unacceptable solution – but what is the point of snipping costs around the edge which make no real impact on the overall budget?

Could it be that the borough is indulging in “machismo politics?”

It's trying to look tough and persuade its supporters who never go into Crown Pools that it is “doing something” – even if it is only saving them a penny or two on their council tax.

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I've heard various versions about the decision – people have told me that adult swimmers don't use the café because they go to the pub after doing their 30 lengths.

And I've been told that children would rather go to McDonalds.

But what I can't understand is why no effort is being made to persuade people to stay in the building.

The administration says people don't like the “unhealthy” menu on offer there. Why hasn't more effort been put into making it healthier?

And there is a group that will lose out seriously – the mums, dads and grandparents who enjoy a cup of tea of coffee while watching youngsters in the pool.

Anyone who thinks that the sludge you get out of a vending machine is the same as the real coffee you can get from a café really needs a reality check!

The café closure will leave Crown Pools as the only major swimming complex I know where you can't get a decent snack or light meal after a swim – Felixstowe Leisure Centre's café always seems to be doing a roaring trade and that is surrounded by burger stalls, pubs, and cafés while Stowmarket Leisure Centre's café always seems quite busy.

Breakfast swimming is popular, what effort has been given to promoting healthy breakfasts at the café after people take a dip?

Why hasn't anyone considered re-branding it as a Costa-style coffee shop – and making it easier for people to reach on their way back to the Crown car park without having to push past those going for a swim?

I can't escape the feeling that the administration weren't interested in developing the café – only in looking tough by closing it. And in doing that they've spurned a great opportunity.

IT'S very worrying that proposals to improve the A12 in Essex are still on the government's drawing board, more than two years after Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced he was considering a £500 million upgrade of the road.

There are environmental concerns about improving road communications – shouldn't we encourage more freight to use the railways rather than roads?

However there are stretches of the A12 which are clearly sub-standard for the 21st century, like the stretch between Marks Tey and Witham and the junction with the M25 at Brentwood.

This is a vital road for Suffolk, not necessarily to get to London – most people travelling to the capital will probably be going by train – but for those heading to other places off the M25 or into Kent.

There are always going to be environmental concerns about widening and improving roads – but set against this is the fact that stretches of the A12 are simply dangerous.

And if Stansted is truly to be the international airport for East Anglia, the A120 road between Marks Tey and Braintree must be wide enough to handle the traffic.

For too long East Anglia's transport links have been barely adequate. I know the region isn't exactly top of the list in getting attention from a Labour government – but its needs cannot be ignored or shelved indefinitely.