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Poll: Free parking lure to attract Christmas shoppers to the town

PUBLISHED: 12:12 11 December 2012

The town's Christmas lights have been a big draw

The town's Christmas lights have been a big draw

Archant

A bid to tempt thousands more people into Ipswich to do their Christmas shopping has been launched by the two authorities which cover the town.

The county council has decided that park and ride will be free from its two centres for the two weekends before December 25 in a bid to attract more shoppers from outside of the town.

And those who do want to drive to the town centre have found the borough council has slashed its car parking fees in the run-up to Christmas.

The news was greeted as “fantastic” by the boss of Ipswich Central – who said it was just the kind of festive cheer retailers had been looking for.

Chief executive Paul Clement said: “People have been saying that they want cheaper parking to attract them to the town.

Christmas lights in Ipswich

This year’s Ipswich Christmas lights have proved more successful than anyone expected, according to Paul Clement.

The chief executive of Ipswich Central said the Christmas shopping season in the town had seen the biggest buzz he could remember.

“I’ve been doing this in effect since 2000, and the interest we’ve had in the tree and in lights around the town this year is much greater than before.

“People have been making special trips to see the tree and our new lights, and hopefully are then going on to spend money in the town.

“Every day I’m getting more and more optimistic about this Christmas – while my colleagues in other towns seem to be rather nervous.”

“Well you can’t get cheaper than free – and that is what we have got from the park and ride centres for the next two weekends, and on Thursday evenings for late night shopping.”

The borough has reintroduced parking for £1 an hour at its Crown and Regent car parks – with evening parking for £2 after 6pm and free parking after 8pm.

“With these offers Ipswich parking is the cheapest in the region and there are many other attractions to bring people here,” said Mr Clement.

“The last fortnight before Christmas is the really vital time, and by having free park and ride on those last two weekends and cheap in-town parking the town is really giving it a go.”

Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “As our county town, Ipswich can become very busy in the run up to Christmas.

“The town centre was packed at the weekend which demonstrates what it has to offer. That is why we are doing everything we can to make it easier to get into, and around, the town.

“We have more than 1,000 parking spaces available everyday at our park and ride sites so we want as many people as possible to use them. It’s as easy as parking up, jumping on the bus and being in town in minutes.”

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said the borough’s decision was also spurring on some of the private car park operators.

He said: “We don’t have that many parking spaces directly under our control after the last administration sold off the spiral car park and allowed the Crown multi-storey to fall down, but the offers we do have are very important, and seem to be encouraging others to cut their prices.”

This bid to get shoppers shopping in Ipswich falls into the Ipswich Star’s I Love Ipswich campaign.

Will free parking attract you into town? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk

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