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Open meeting called to help create new community space following popular cafe's closure

PUBLISHED: 07:30 01 November 2019

Anna Matthews is calling for people to come together to set up a new community space  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Anna Matthews is calling for people to come together to set up a new community space Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A meeting is to be held in hope of creating a new community space to replace a popular Ipswich cafe, which closed following the death of its much-loved founder.

La Tour Cafe, now closed, staged many community events, including a performance by Westbourne's samba band, pictured.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNLa Tour Cafe, now closed, staged many community events, including a performance by Westbourne's samba band, pictured. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The event will be held in the town next week, to discuss the next steps after the closure of La Tour Cycle Cafe on the Waterfront.

Anna Matthews, co-founder of the cafe, made the decision to close it with a "heavy heart", after her husband, Cliff, with whom she founded the business, died from cancer in March. She is now taking time out to focus on her family.

There had been hopes that a co-operative would take over the space, but this did not work out. However, Anna now wants to see more people come forward to set up similar community-run ventures.

"Lots of people say they're going to really miss the cafe. La Tour was a much-loved base for lots of community groups. People felt they were safe there," Anna said.

La Tour Cycle Cafe was a popular meeting place. Picture: NICOLA WARRENLa Tour Cycle Cafe was a popular meeting place. Picture: NICOLA WARREN

"It wasn't about the coffee - it was about having a space that belonged to the community."

Anna said she had realised that she was unable to carry on running the cafe "for a number of reasons, the main one being the loss of Cliff."

She and arts performer Robert Pacitti are holding a meeting from 11am to 1pm on Thursday, November 7, at the Pacitti Company's Think Tank in High Street, which is next to Ipswich Museum. The aim is to see what ideas people have about a new community space - ideally in an empty building or "slack space" in the town.

READ MORE - Popular Waterfront cafe closing

Cliff Matthews and wife Anna  Picture: LIZZY MATTHEWSCliff Matthews and wife Anna Picture: LIZZY MATTHEWS

"There are so many slack spaces in our town, and it would be good to see them used for the community," Anna said.

She does not feel that a new venture could be in La Tour's former venue, but says there are many other empty buildings which could be suitable.

Anna added: "I don't think it needs to be just one person running a new community space. It could be a group of people that decide they want to do it together, I think it's marvellous that Robert has given the space to the community to have a conversation about this."

Robert said: "La Tour Cycle Cafe has brought real heart to the ipswich scene across recent years, serving not just food and coffee, but also warmth, care and a genuine welcome to all.

"A very supportive partner to Pacitti Company, we chose to launch last year's SPILL Festival there, rather than going for a traditional arts or entertainment venue, because being at La Tour always felt meaningful and accessible to all. This is why we've chosen to host an open meeting at our Think Tank base about 'what next'. All are welcome."

Anyone wishing to attend the meeting is asked to contact Anna or Robert via Facebook so that they have an idea of numbers. The building has flat level access and hot drinks will be provided.

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