Youngsters aim to transform subway

DARK, dingy, smelly, and unsafe-that is how Ipswich's youngsters have described one of the town's largest underpasses.They insist that a radical makeover is needed to transform St Matthew's Street underpass into an accessible thoroughfare and are today looking for support to make this happen.

DARK, dingy, smelly, and unsafe-that is how Ipswich's youngsters have described one of the town's largest underpasses.

They insist that a radical makeover is needed to transform St Matthew's Street underpass into an accessible thoroughfare and are today looking for support to make this happen.

Teenagers aged between 14 and 17 from St Matthew's Church You're Only Young Once (Yo Yo) youth club, in Crescent Road, have come up with a range of ideas to make the underpass a nicer place to use. These include having music played through speakers, getting artists to display work which reflects Ipswich and its different cultures, and new lighting installed.

Barrister Cherie Parnell, who runs the club along with Tom Chick, presented the youngsters with the idea of tackling the problem of the underpass under the banner of Hope 2008 - a Christian initiative to make a difference in communities.


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She said: “Anyone you speak to about the underpass say they are unhappy about it. It makes a lot of people feel intimidated and made me think about how we could improve it.

“The CCTV was stolen recently there which doesn't give people a lot of confidence. I know lawyers who would rather drive to court than use that underpass. The kids are not interested in doing a half-hearted job and we feel that with a bit of community support, it could be changed. They have a lot of pride in their town.

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“Mike Tee, head of highways at the council, has kindly agreed to meet me at his offices and has been very supportive of the idea.”

El Brindle, 16, one of the youth club members, said: “Everyone finds the underpass scary and no one wants to go down there. It is right in the middle of the community and there are mothers with prams that need to use it.

“I find that it is quite easy to loose your bearings so I suggested painting pictures of the buildings above ground on the walls so you can tell where you are going.”

A barrister at East Anglian Chambers, Juliet Donovan, said she would rather drive from her offices in Museum Street to the Crown Court than face using the underpass.

She said: “I need to get to crown court in the mornings but don't use the underpass because it's filthy and disgusting. It's dark and generally unpleasant and I don't feel particularly safe. Mobiles don't work down there either, which is bad if you got into trouble. “Something needs to be done about it.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Council said: “We are impressed with the enthusiasm shown by people who clearly want to make a difference and we shall consider their proposals carefully.”

Do you think something needs to be done about this underpass? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

If you belong or run a youth club in the town and want to get involve or are a business that can help, call the Yo Yo club at St Matthew's Church office on 01473 251630 and leave a message.

The youth's ideas about how to transform the underpass

New lighting

New floor and drains

Advertising hoardings inside the underpass for the council to make money for cost of upkeep and works

Music piped in, ranging from reggae to jazz

Clear pictures of where the exits are leading to, which can be painted or shown by photos in sealed cases

A Saturday market once a month for artists and craft people to set up tables

A bright display of artwork throughout the underpass.

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