Demolition Day

Noticed on my walk home last night that progress seems to be being made at The Flour Mill in Ipswich. Having been derelict for something like six years (I only moved to Ipswich in 2003) and held by developers since at least April 2003 there have been various articles promising developments in Ipswich’s second-rate press, The Evening Star.

Back in June (council’s decision and the discovery of 15th buildings on site. I received a series of emails from Wharfside Regeneration’s Spencer Style in May (before the section 106 development agreement) in which he made reference to the delays in starting work. He was expecting an 8 week delay in mobilising contractors. Anyway, all that aside the demolition contractors are moving their banners into position and – presumably – beginning the slow and painful process of stripping out the machinery, asbestos and decaying remnants of this crumbling building. As far as I can tell from the images around the web, a lot of the original building is being demolished, including the giant 1950s concrete silos. As much as people might like to see these stay – for reasons of architectural heritage – they would serve no purpose and would instead be vacant monoliths. The proposals, amongst which is the flagship Dance East studios, should do much to enhance this neglected corner of Ipswich

However, there’s still much work to do along the exisiting waterfront. The regeneration that begun at the start of this decade has had some tangible effects. A quick list of developments so far: Cardinal Lofts at the Burtons factory (ongoing), Neptune Marina (completed, Redrow homes), Orwell Quay (Persimmon homes), Neptune Square (Bellway), Stoke Quay (Bellway), and in the 1980s, the Stoke Bridge Maltings. This piecemeal development has left areas apparently unloved and uncared for. Along the road in front of these developments by the quay, the weeds grow up from the council’s neglect. There are precious few bins and no trees. Planting of any kind is scarce and left to individual properties to maintain. Street furniture is damaged and patchwork-repaired.

The ‘vibrant’ waterfront itself is not quite what it seems either. There are two restaurants, another, The Salthouse Brasserie as part of a four-star hotel, a friendly independent cafĂ©, a pub, hairdresser and that’s it. The remaining units are let by various 9-5 businesses (although there is a breadth in these from yacht companies to social care and from picture framing to property development). Major commercial units are vacant in Neptune Marina and the Orwell Quay development has only a faded and seedy pool hall and absolutely nothing else. Whilst commercial units are promised in the remaining developments, it’s a wonder why no-one significant has wanted to catch the worm by booking an early spot on the waterfront. The council is quick to sing this area’s praises but it just isn’t the vibrant commercial and residential melting pot they think it is.

Maybe the proposals for Mint Quarter and St. Peter’s Port can add fuel to a barely smouldering fire of regeneration but unless the council get stuck in and attempt to beautify the area, thinking about environment, heritage, arts and social dynamics then all that will be left at the end of 2010 will be empty steel and glass structures and a whole lot of vacant residential lets. The demolition flags signal some progress, I’ll await the true transformation with more than a degree of scepticism.

Finally, I’ve noticed that Mortimers, a previously independent and rather successful seafood restaurant in a former electricity building on Duke Street, has been bought and redeveloped as part of the Loch Fyne chain. I never got the chance to eat there before it was bought-up, I only hope that this doesn’t mean I’ve missed the boat wth regards to quality seafood and a restaurant with real character…

Technorati Tag :


Murders Unsolved As Debate Rages On

Following on from my entry yesterday in reference to the increase police presence on the streets in London, today’s Metro (that bastion of journalistic integrity) features a piece bemoaning the apparent slowing of progress on non-terrorist related high profile murder cases. Presumably at some point we’ll see a return to detective activity in these outstanding cases but as to when I guess we just don’t know.

Anyway Metro seeded the other element to this entry. The fertile letters section of the paper (why it occupies such a small spot is beyond me) once again attempts to debate the explanation and justification for the bombing campaign in the capital. As far as I can tell the debate is polarised thus:

The bombing campaign can be attributed to British involvement in Iraq:

YES: The apparent invasion of an Islamic state and the unwarranted deaths of muslims can be considered justification for Jihad. The manifestation of Jihad in this instance are the suicide bombings in London. Had we not been involved in Iraq, our sanctuary and tolerance of radical Islamists would have protected us from attack.

NO: The attacks on the USS Cole and the World Trade Centre pre-date the military action in Afghanistan and Iraq and indicate that Jihad was in operation before any clear attack on an Islamic nation. The presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait cannot be considered an invasion as it was with Saudi Arabia’s permission.

Of course, the debate is not this clear cut and therein lies the problem. Christianity was historically used to justify the Crusades, puritanical Witch Hunts and all manner of other intolerances. If one takes the bible literally it is perfectly possible to explain and justify numerous immoral and contradictory behaviours. The Koran, as far as I can tell, can also be interpreted many ways. The sheer variability of the messages of Islam – as typified recently by the different messages emerging from different Islamic groups and the tribal fractions in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan – means that it is nigh-on impossible to identify a single objective or agenda for the current terrorist campaign.

Just taking a view of the backgrounds of all the terrorists committing crimes under the banner of Islam shows a significant diversity: Jamaican, Somalian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, British and Pakistani, white American, Chechen, Sunni, Taliban, Indonesian, Algerian, Palestinian and many others. There is inconsistency here, as well as in their agenda.

With no clear direction, no tangible group to engage in dialogue and negotiation, it’s apparent that the only places where we can seek any kind of answers is on such letters pages, blogs, late night TV debates and, of course, in moments of personal reflection.


The Invisible Met

Our 'cycling correspondent' (who's gleefuly been sending me pictures of his new Penny Farthing adorned with red tyres and yet - illegally - no bell or reflectors) alerted me to an article in today's Times by Janet Daley.
'Coppers out of thin air' raises the valid point that the recent increased Police presence on the streets of the capital implies that the manpower we were always assured was too costly to deploy, is in fact available and able to burn shoe leather on the pavements, platforms and in the parks. This perambulating deterrent has been gloriously absent during the increase in violent crime, the stabbings and shootings, the drug dealing and vandalism. Yet now we're treated to assault rifles on the train to Paddington.
What I expect will happen is that a gradual scaling down of non-essential duties will occur until someone realises this and officers will be recalled back to desks to clear admin backlogs and generate some speeding-fine revenue. Anyway, she puts it far more eloquently, read her article.

Ring of Plenty

Following a disappointing trip to Hatton Gardens, some disappointing emails with a bespoke designer, disappointing diamonds from a High Street chain in administration and finally an impromptu drop-in to an independant jewelers in Ipswich, we now have an engagement ring. Wonderful service, wonderful quality and we both feel much happier. Wasn't quite the customer experience I had expected (originally had expected us to go for a Mappin & Webb purchase with lengthy consultations and fawning staff...) but the benefit of this is that we feel we've been involved and involved with people who genuinely care about producing an engagement ring that lasts a lifetime. This wasn't sales, this was about (ahem) realising our wants and needs.


Intelligent Gathering

Saw this article about how the security services used IMEI tracking on Hamdi Isaac’s (previously Hussain Osman) mobile to trace his movements across Europe and, ultimately, track him down. What was disappointing however was the Italian Carlo de Stefano’s decision to post this information which will now mean that future criminals will know to switch handsets and SIM cards.

This has called me to reconsider another couple of issues that have bothered me in recent days regarding the international efforts to track down the people behind the terror attacks. Leaving aside the issue of whether the security services identified meaningful chatter amongst the communities responsible for the attack before the event (and thereby inferring something about their efficacy) we should be looking at some idiotic press releases in the aftermath.

First there is the US intelligence agency leaking classified images of bomb equipment to the TV networks. A gross misjudgement and indicative of the ineptitude of certain people involved in the relevant agencies. This sort of imagery does nothing other than spread the design plans of such devices and produce poster artwork for every budding martyr to display on their wall.

Second there is the Italian legal system happily leaking all manner of details of what has been said in custody awaiting extradition. In our country, for all its failings, the defendant – once in custody – is protected from further speculation in order to avoid prejudicing their right to a fair trial. By publishing this information (which I accept the British Press are guilty of) they add fuel to the defence lawyers claim in Italy that in extraditing this man to the UK they would prevent him receiving. All the information that Antonietta Sonnessa [above right] has revealed in an unnecessarily extrovert way (we saw pictures of her in a spaghetti-strap camisole outside court, highly sensitive to her Islamic client…) could have been effectively reported at trial. On the BBC 10 o’clock news tonight we rather pointlessly saw her inside the self publicising lawyer’s glamorous gilded office during an interview with Jeremy Bowen.

Thirdly our ‘cycling correspondent’ writes in reference to French passport control (which reputedly failed to check any relevant documents for ) “I passed through 4 times (i.e. 2 return trips) with an 8 month out of date passport, and nobody said a thing until the very last one, who took a scan of it and then let me through anyway.” First there was Sangatte and now there is this, why are the French so cavalier about their borders? Of course there’s some argument that the British should check passports at London but my understanding is that from the gates at Waterloo, security and immigration is in French hands? The Evening Standard tonight has suggested that Labour cuts in 1998 led to the removal of outbound border checks in cost cutting exercise.

The British police – and in particular the oft-maligned Metropolitan Police – have done an amazing job. The Spaniards did well to secure their suspects but the British have worked on two separate events with (to begin with) less forensic material and have detained numerous suspects including all of the attempted bombers from the 21st, alive and unharmed. Our terrorist correspondent writes: “the police have done fantastically well. I’d love to be at the centre of the investigation and see the true power of the police and intelligence services full resources thrown at a problem.” He continues (somewhat optimistically) that once nations work together on tracking down a suspect you can’t: “communicate, purchase anything unless with cash, withdraw cash, travel through ports or even use public transport. … unless you have suitcase full of cash and the French are manning the immigration controls for Eurostar.”

Whilst the vast majority of us abhor the tragic events of 7th July and the ‘near miss’ of 21st, many of us simply wish that we demonstrate an effective, moral and ethical process in bringing the perpetrators to justice. That, in the strongest terms, sends the signal to the extremists that they will be defeated by fair and due process. That democracy and justice is alive and well.

In other news..

Oh, and maybe bloggers will be interested in this article. And for those of you reading this where I work this piece on Boardroom Bloggers might seem relevant if unduly cynical.