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Ipswich market traders fear for future as public stays away from new site

PUBLISHED: 06:56 10 February 2018 | UPDATED: 06:56 10 February 2018

The market food court cannot be seen from Giles Circus. Picture: PAUL GEATER

The market food court cannot be seen from Giles Circus. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Traders at Ipswich Market have warned they could be forced to leave the town because trade has suffered since they were forced to leave the Cornhill.

Bill Birkett on his waffle stall at Ipswich market. Picture: PAUL GEATERBill Birkett on his waffle stall at Ipswich market. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Trade has suffered for the stalls at the top of Princes Street – but particularly for the Market’s food court in Queen Street.

The food stalls cannot be seen from Giles Circus and the bottom of the provisions market – and while traders have been given their pitches rent-free for a month, they fear they will not be able to continue into March unless business picks up.

Paul Guays-Atkins has operated the hog roast stall for 12 years and said business had never been so bad. He said: “There’s no one here most of the time and even if there are people here they’re just walking to or from offices. They aren’t stopping to buy anything.

“Last week I lost money even with no rent to pay. I cannot carry on doing that.”

He said food stallholders felt there needed to be more activity at the top of Queen Street so people felt the market flowed down from Giles’ Circus to the food court area.

Bill Birkett is a newcomer with his waffle stall – but doesn’t expect to stay: “So far today I’ve sold two waffles (it was 1.30pm). There’s just no one here. I’ll stay until the rent-free time is up, but I cannot carry on like this.”

However Rob and Jen Dunn with their vegan food stall were happy with the new site. Mr Dunn said: “It’s been good for us. We like the fact all the food stalls are together – and our customers look out for where we are.”

Ipswich council is preparing to launch a “Love your Market” campaign to attract more customers – and leader David Ellesmere said they would be talking to the stallholders to try to raise their profile.

Paul Guays-Atkins at his hog roast at Ipswich Market. Picture: PAUL GEATERPaul Guays-Atkins at his hog roast at Ipswich Market. Picture: PAUL GEATER

It was not possible to move the stalls further up Queen Street because that section was narrow, and emergency access needed to be maintained.

He added: “We want to look at ways of raising the profile of the food area and of the market as a whole – the rent-free period should give the stalls the chance to establish themselves and we really want to support them.”

The Love Your Local Market campaign is being launched by the council to coincide with Valentine’s Day and will feature a social media campaign.

There will also be a new loyalty card campaign launched in the next few weeks.

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