The year that was

2007 was an an eventful year. And The Evening Star reporting team have been busy bringing you exclusives and the latest news throughout the last 12 months.

James Marston

2007 has been an eventful year. And The Evening Star reporting team have been busy bringing you exclusives and the latest news throughout the last 12 months. Today we look back at some of the stories and issues facing our community that have hit the headlines.

WHAT makes the news?

Is it crime, human endeavour, scandal, tragedy, world events, or even something a little more humorous?

The answer is, of course, a mixture of all of the above. News is ever changing. From our Somebody's Daughter Campaign, launched after tragic events in the town last year, to naming and shaming drink drivers, to Air Fair? - launched to highlight growing concerns around increasing air traffic in our skies- and Golden Years which fights for the dignity of older people, the Evening Star stands up for and fights for your community every day.

And this year has brought us industry-wide recognition for our efforts. As Britain's Daily Newspaper of the Year as well as the Community Newspaper of the Year, we and our readers can be rightly proud of our achievements.

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The year of…ITFC

IT was a fairly momentous 2007 for Ipswich Town - off the pitch, anyway.

While Jim Magilton's team has shown steady improvement, the last 12 months will forever be remembered for the arrival of a certain Marcus Evans.

The billionaire businessman has, it appears, rescued the club from financial meltdown and injected a cool £12million into Magilton's transfer kitty.

Gone are the days of scrimping and saving, cost-cutting and fire sales, replaced instead with economic security and the very real prospect of a return to the Premier League.

But perhaps the biggest change has been the cut with a very proud history. Since the club's inception in 1878, the Cobbold family has always been at its heart, directing Town with determination but an undying ethos of fair play.

“Love the game more than the prize” was former chairman John Cobbold's football maxim.

But the decision - backed by the vast majority of supporters - to look for a super rich sugar daddy, able to bankroll a bid for glory, brings an end to 129 years of tradition.

Today, the beautiful game is big business - and Marcus' millions are essential if Ipswich are ever again to compete with the country's footballing aristocracy.

Few fans will mourn the shift in power if the milk and honey of the top flight make a speedy return to Suffolk.

The takeover has meant the gossip on the terraces is no longer about who could be next through the Portman Road exit door, but who could be the first arrival of Town's new era.

Next year already promises to be an exciting one for Ipswich Town.

The year of…SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER

LAUNCHED in the wake of the killings of five women in Suffolk, the Somebody's Daughter appeal raised nearly £40,000 in 2007.

The campaign, run by The Evening Star in conjunction with Ipswich Borough Council, was given a mandate of helping vulnerable young people escape the perils of drug addiction and prostitution.

To achieve that aim, the cash raised will be used to fund a safe haven in Ipswich.

The community has thrown its weight behind the cause, staging fundraising events, donating cash and promoting the charity.

Ipswich business Call Connection has been one of the biggest backers, swelling the coffers with a number of hefty donations, while the Co-op, Lloyds TSB, the New Wolsey theatre, Sainsbury's and Suffolk Police have also offered their support.

Ipswich Town Football Club selected Somebody's Daughter as its chosen charity for the season, while Blues players showed their support by wearing promotional T-shirts during the warm-up before a match with Colchester United.

The appeal caught the attention of leader of the opposition David Cameron, who publicly backed the drive, as did politician Peter Hain.

A number of famous acts who have come to Ipswich to perform have also backed the cause.

And the campaign has this month enjoyed a festive boost after being selected as the beneficiary of the lucrative Star Christmas appeal.

Somebody's Daughter is a registered charity and is run by a board of trustees which includes Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks, borough council leader Liz Harsant and Ipswich MP Chris Mole.

The year of…RURAL ROBBERIES

ARDLEIGH, Dedham, Brantham, Elmswell, Long Melford and East Bergholt have all hit the headlines this year but for the wrong reasons.

Leaving shopkeepers concerned and calling for action, robberies at post offices and stores in some of Suffolk's most peaceful villages have left communities in shock and police determined to prevent further crimes.

Often the hub of the village, these businesses are vital to our communities and an integral part of village daily life - they do not deserve top be targeted by these heartless and terrifying crimes.

It was in November that a spate of robberies brought the issue once again to the public consciousness.

On November 30 Elmswell became the latest target after ram raiders targeted the Co-op store in the earl hours of the morning leaving a trail of devastation.

Police said it was believed the men attempted to steal a cash machine from inside the store but were unable to remove it.

Elmswell mum Tina Whatling said: “It was the gossip going around the school playground today. I feel sorry for older people because they'll feel threatened by this. It's their local store. As soon as it gets dark you just want to stay at home.”

To combat the frightening crime police launched Operation Artic - an East Anglian-wide campaign to prevent and detect robberies at Post Offices and stores, and ATM thefts.

A spokeswoman for the police said: “We are doing lots to prevent robberies in small stores. It really is a whole community thing with everyone trying to stop it happening by reporting anything suspicious.

“We know at this time of year it does get darker and some people to try to take advantage of that by targeting shops.

“We do target officers to particularly vulnerable areas where we know there could be a problem and we visit certain areas and carry out extra patrols.”

The year of…GRIDLOCK

TRANSPORT problems on the region's road and rail links once again had travellers fuming during 2007, and there were warnings that things are not likely to get much better in years ahead.

One of the most worrying pieces of news was a warning from the Highways' Agency in October that the A14 in Suffolk could grind to a halt in five years if traffic numbers continue to rise.

Solutions put forward included widening the road, building a new Ipswich northern by-pass, and even building a new crossing of the River Orwell.

All these solutions would be extremely expensive, and the northern by-pass suggestion would be likely to provoke a serious outcry among environmental groups.

Accidents on the A14 continued to cause knock-on problems in the heart of Ipswich - every time the Orwell Bridge or other sections of the road around the town were closed traffic was diverted on to the already-busy roads in central Ipswich.

Engineers began long-term repairs on the main railway line to London which cause serious problems for people heading to the capital at weekends - and all to frequently made early trips on a Monday morning something of a lottery as engineering work sometimes over-ran.

However the problems on the main line were much less than those on the cross-country service from Ipswich to Ely and Peterborough.

At the end of June a freight train derailed on a bridge over the River Ouse just outside Ely.

The heavy trucks all but destroyed the bridge which was more than a mile away from the nearest road over boggy fenland fields.

The work to replace the bridge was not completed until the Friday before Christmas - during the closure passengers had to travel via Cambridge or Norwich . . . or catch a bus from Bury to Ely.

The year of…BIG CLOSURES

TWO of the best-known industries in Ipswich are preparing to leave the town at the end of 2007.

Power distribution company E.On, the successor to Eastern Electricity after a number of different identities including TXU and Powergen, announced in October that it would be closing its Wherstead Park offices by the middle of 2008.

That decision would see the loss of 339 jobs. Some could be offered new jobs at the company's offices in Coventry or Rayleigh near Southend, but most are expecting to start searching for new jobs in the new year.

The company didn't improve its image among its loyal staff, or the community as a whole, after it was revealed that changes to redundancy terms meant those staff leaving would not find as generous terms as had been offered in the past.

Eventually E.On backed down on that issue.The final chapter in E.On's links with Ipswich came last month when it was announced that the company would not be renewing its sponsorship deal with Ipswich Town next season.

That is a wise move for the club - its loyal fans who used to work for E.On might not be too happy about going to matches wearing the logo of the company that had so recently dispensed with their services.

Just days before Christmas, another major name announced it was pulling out when Cranes announced the end of manufacturing in the town after 86 years. The company's head office will remain in Ipswich, but the manufacture of valves and pipes will be transferred to factories in Asia or Hitchin in Hertfordshire. 210 people will lose their jobs.

That is only a fraction of the 2,000 or more staff who worked their during the 1960s, but the closure will have a huge impact on the town and represents a major loss of engineering jobs.

The move was announced less than a week before Christmas - meaning most employees were unable to digest the news before they sat down to their turkey!

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What was the highlight of 2007 for you? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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