PREPARATIONS for the second Beacon Town conference are in their final stage with one of Britain’s top retail experts preparing for his keynote speech.

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Former Marks and Spencer chief Sir Stuart Rose will be the main speaker at next Friday’s conference at the Corn Exchange.

The event will also give delegates the opportunity to discuss a proposed bid for £24 million from the government’s Future Cities fund.

The Beacon Town conference is being promoted by the Ipswich Star in association with the borough council and the town’s MP Ben Gummer.

Ipswich Star editor Terry Hunt said: “The second Beacon Conference is a really important milestone in our campaign to ensure that Ipswich fulfils its fantastic potential.

“Sir Stuart Rose’s views on the town centre will be fascinating, coming from someone with such vast experience of retail at the highest level. It will be sit up and take notice time!

“I also look forward to debating how Ipswich can get its hands on the incredible £24 million pot of gold.

“I attended the first Beacon Conference as editor of the East Anglian Daily Times. Now I have responsibility for the Star as well it gives me a really good overview of Ipswich and the rest of the county, and the relationship between the two.

“That’s certainly something we need to resolve if both Ipswich and the county are to reach their potential.”

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “The Beacon Town is about motivating all of us to do our very best, and it is great that one of the world’s great retailers will be joining us to help in that process,

Borough council leader David Ellesmere said: “To get Sir Stuart Rose to visit Ipswich and share his views on how to get the town moving is a real coup for the town.”

The conference runs alongside our I Love Ipswich campaign, which is designed to highlight the positive aspects of our town.

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