Cultural madness hits town

HAS the world gone mad?In Ipswich it's starting to look as if we are living in the mad hatter's tea party as councils and government bodies tussle over the future of the town's artistic life.

HAS the world gone mad?

In Ipswich it's starting to look as if we are living in the mad hatter's tea party as councils and government bodies tussle over the future of the town's artistic life.

On the one hand we have the council planning to sell off the Corn Exchange - which provides arts facilities covering a number of tastes - while on the other we have national government, through the East of England Development Agency, pouring money into a new dance centre.

That's great if you like leaping around in leotards, but tough if you like going to hear brass bands, listening to symphony orchestras, visiting photographic exhibitions or generally attending any of the dozens of activities which take place in the Corn Exchange every year.

I'm fed up with hearing that the future of the Corn Exchange is going to be subject of a consultation exercise.

People may be given their say in its future - but so far as the ruling Labour group on Ipswich council is concerned, it's already been settled.

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They've voted in favour of selling it off.

So while the custodians of the borough's money are planning to sell off an extremely popular and well-used arts centre, EEDA wants to pour money into a new dance centre on the Waterfront.

Why didn't anyone at Civic Centre say it would be better for them to throw money at the Corn Exchange?

I'm sure most people in Suffolk would rather see that survive than a flash new centre for dancers open on the Waterfront and no doubt require tens of thousands of pounds in subsidy every year.

After all the town isn't exactly short of such facilities - there's a superb arts centre including dance studios at Northgate High School.

Actually, though, before we get too carried away about the new dance centre, we should recognise that this is, in fact, only a fig leaf.

The new Waterfront development is not all about providing a dance centre - it's about providing flats in a 23-storey tower block that many people fear will dominate the skyline.

It's about building a new 80-room hotel, shops and office space.

And . . . let's include a dance studio with a big sign so it doesn't look totally devoid of culture.

As it is we're having one form of culture imposed on the area while the cultural life is being ripped out of the heart of the town.

And that's what's called progress!

FEW subjects generate as much heat as the debate over a new supermarket for Hadleigh - and now this has taken another turn with the claim that a major supermarket wants to take over part of the Buyright store.

I already seem to have upset everyone in the town with my views on this subject so . . . in for a penny, in for a pound.

A supermarket at Buyright would be a disaster. It would pull shoppers away from the town centre.

Hadleigh does need a good supermarket - otherwise the town's shoppers will continue to leap into their cars and go shopping in Ipswich, Sudbury, or Colchester.

The extended Co-op store will help to do that - as would any other new supermarket in the town centre like Tesco on the Brett Works site.

With both Tesco and the Co-op, Hadleigh may well become a magnet for shoppers from some distance. It might even attract some people from west Ipswich looking for an alternative shopping centre.

Without a vibrant shopping centre supported by supermarkets, Hadleigh town centre will look like an museum piece slowly dying on its feet.

And the idea of promoting a supermarket outside the town centre at Buyright is plain daft.