Ipswich: They’ve ripped the heart out of our community - ex-mayor’s sadness at moves to demolish community hub

IPSWICH: They are ripping the heart out of our community.

Those are the sentiments of former Ipswich mayor Albert Grant, who today told of his devastation at controversial proposals to tear down the Ipswich Caribbean Association (ICA) building in Woodbridge Road.

The venue, which hit the headlines in December 2009 following a shooting during a music event, was forced to close in 2010 after the council withdrew financial support.

There had been hopes funding could be secured to allow it to re-open.

But now, the borough wants to raze the ICA headquarters to the ground and replace it with a car park.

Mr Grant, a councillor for Whitehouse, founded the association in 1975.

He said: “It is very sad that they want to demolish the building.

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“It is at the heart of our community.”

The revelations come more than two years after a brawl at the club which left five people injured – one of whom had suffered a gunshot wound.

None of the five, who were all from Ipswich, were seriously hurt in the incident. But the club’s future was left hanging in the balance as a result of the drama.

Mr Grant, who was awarded an OBE for his work in community relations, said the demolition of the building – home to the ICA since 1980 – would impact people of all races.

“We tried really hard to save it but the borough council wouldn’t give us a lease on the building,” he said. With a lease we would have secured the funding to get the site back up and running.

“It is a very sad day but not only for the Caribbean people of Ipswich. People of all races used the building and loved it.

“To me, it just seems that there was one incident at the Caribbean Club which was bad and they jumped on that. There are other places across the town where trouble happens every day – but they are still open.

“It was the centre of our community. It really was a family place. We have nowhere to meet now.”

He said the group had been left with no option but to search for a new home.

The application, submitted by the borough council, involves the demolition of the ICA’s centre to make room for 39 car parking spaces.

The car park would run as an extension to the council-owned car park in Cobden Road.

n What do you think about this issue? Write to your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.