A third of shops and restaurants in Ipswich town centre are independently run - a fact we should be celebrating, says town chief Paul Clement.

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“We have a higher proportion of independently run businesses than many other towns,” said the chief executive of Ipswich Central. “We have got specific clusters, like the Saints Quarter and Blackfriars, which are predominantly occupied by independent traders but we also have a range throughout the whole town centre.”

He continued: “It is these individual businesses that give a sense of choice and uniqueness, without them we would end up clone towns, where the geography and the buildings of a town themselves matter not a jot.”

He stressed that a mix of independents and big name chain stores is vital to a thriving town centre.

Mr Clement is encouraging shoppers to nominate their favourite family-owned and local traders for the business of the year award, part of the Ipswich Independents scheme.

This year the competition, supported by the Ipswich Star, aims to truly celebrate those stores that give Ipswich its unique character and feel.

The five businesses with the most votes will then be ‘mystery shopped’ and a panel of expert judges will assess the finalists on friendliness of staff, staff knowledge, customer service, individuality, quality of environment and overall customer experience, amongst other criteria, before deciding which should be named Independent Business of the Year 2014.

We have already received more than 160 nominations, but make sure your favourite is on the list, by clicking here

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