Good news to drop pool proposal

I WAS delighted to see that the borough seems to have decided that there is no point in going ahead with a new Olympic sized pool in Ipswich and is proposing to restore Crown Pools.

I WAS delighted to see the borough seems to have decided that there is no point in going ahead with a new Olympic-sized pool in Ipswich and is proposing to restore Crown Pools.

In a perfect world with no credit crunch and no recession looming, it would have been wonderful to get a great new swimming centre in Portman Road opposite the football stadium.

But in the current circumstances that did not look like a good idea on any level.

For a start where would the money come from? Swimming pools are expensive. Ipswich council isn't exactly flush with cash (especially with five million frozen in Iceland).

Developers aren't exactly queuing up to take on new sites like the Crown Pools/Crown car park area - so the borough would not get a very good price if it did press ahead with redevelopment.

At times like this it makes much more sense to consolidate what is already happening in the town and press forward gently for the future.

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Ipswich is fortunate in that the redevelopment of the Waterfront - especially the Regatta Quay and Mill projects - had passed the point of no return before the downturn really hit.

And Turnstone's Westgate development (the Civic Centre) site is also well under way.

When the first signs of recovery start to appear the next development that should begin is the long-awaited Mint Quarter project.

The idea of building yet more major new schemes at Portman Road and off Crown Street is simply unrealistic - and it is good to see that the borough has recognised that.

Money will have to be spent on bringing Crown Pools up to 21st century standard, but this is not an old building. There are many pools that are far more basic and run-down than this 1984 structure.

I know the Conservatives were opposed to the construction of Crown Pools when they were in opposition at the borough so it is quite understandable that they should have had a long hard look at the building once they took over at the head of the administration.

It must have been quite an admission for some members of the council to accept that refurbishing Crown Pools is the best option for the future of swimming in Ipswich.

So they deserve congratulations for examining the options before deciding that the pool probably is in the best place for the next 15 years.

And as part of the refurbishment perhaps the powers that be will take a look at the possibility of reintroducing some kind of catering - so parents can enjoy a real cup of coffee while they watch their youngsters splash around or can buy a light lunch after a morning of fun in the pool.

THEY say the world is a small place - and Ipswich Labour agent John Cook found out just how small it is when he went to Barack Obama's rally in Columbus, Ohio at the weekend.

As he waited to go through the security gates at the entrance to the rally, he started talking to another man in the crowd who recognised his English accent.

It turned out the other Obama supporter - who introduced himself as “Julius” lived for a time at Lancing Avenue in Ipswich!

“We didn't have a long conversation, there wasn't time because we were approaching the security, but it was unbelievable to bump into someone from so close to home,” he said.

ONE last word on this week's big election . . . and I don't mean yesterday's contest in Glenrothes!

I took a call from a senior council official on Wednesday morning.

“I wish we could fly the American flag from the top of the Town Hall today,” he said. “Suddenly everyone feels good about America again.

“But I know that would be political and wrong.”

Maybe it would, but the feeling around the world seems to be similar to that felt in the days immediately after Tony Blair became Prime Minister - even those who didn't want Obama to win seem to be looking forward to the changes his victory should bring.

I can't help wondering how long it will be before his victory is tainted in some way. It didn't take long for the gloss to rub off New Labour in the winter of 1997/98.

And it will be interesting to see if the Republicans in America follow the lead of their Conservative cousins in Britain and spend the next ten years fighting among themselves before they eventually decide it might be quite a good idea to try to win an election again.