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.

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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

11 comments

  • Have the council bosses not seen the amount of shops that sit in the town unused? Its just a thought but what about halving the price of parking in the town all of the time and encouraging more shoppers into the town. I'm certain that the retailers need business throughout the year not just christmas......

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    Rob

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • Car parking is only "the cheapest in the region" if the "region" is very small! I parked in Colchester at a Town Centre car park for £2.50 for 4 hours and could have parked all day for £3.50. If Ipswich is to prosper it has to think long-term about its car parking fees. Even now more meters are going up around the town to take yet more money from shoppers. And usually at about £1 per 30 minutes it is a rip-off. Ipswich is not Central London and it needs to realise that; we all know the story of the Golden Goose.

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • I have to park in town centres all the time for work, and I can tell you in this area Cambridge has the highest charges, in fact it costs more there than many of the greater london areas, second highest is Norwich, then Ipswich. You certainly see the attraction of out of town shopping that has all year free parking!

    Report this comment

    john

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

  • Sorry, this isn't good enough. I want you to send a gold plated limousine to my door, driven by a Playboy Bunny, and drive me to the entrance of every shop that I wish to visit. Until then, I will continue to find excuses to moan about my home town. On a more serious note, it's great to see that IBC have finally woken up and smelt the coffee.

    Report this comment

    Erm, Why?

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • How strange! Reducing car park charges in the run up to Christmas was a suggestion made by me and many others 2 years ago. Top marks for acting quickly. I too must take up this 'cheapest in the region' comment. Presumably he is only talking of about a 1 mile radius of the town centre as a few Saturdays ago I parked from just after 10am until 5pm in Bury St Edmunds centre and the grand cost was £2.20! Anyway what are all of these people who will be rushing into the cheap car parks in Ipswich going to buy cos there aint much choice.

    Report this comment

    how'd the town do

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • Good start,can they sort the traffic lights out now please so that they react to the amount of traffic instead of causing unnessary jams down spring road,woodbridge road crown street bishops hill etc etc.........

    Report this comment

    minimat

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • Erm, Why? - brilliant comment!! Rob - empty shows is at 12% which is lower than last xmas and lower than the national average. You've just got to accept empty shops during a recession - and focus on the new ones that have opened like Lush.

    Report this comment

    Scott Brock

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • Surely parking should be free or prices slashed all year round? People are spending a fortune on parking, and on top of petrol too. I know people who are spending about £50 a WEEK!!! on parking, just so they can get to work. How are people supposed to have a quality of life when a insignificant thing such as parking is so expensive. Please sort it out Ipswich.

    Report this comment

    Chloeden92

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • It just shows how desperate the people who run "cesspit" Ipswich are to get people into town. So what will all of these people be buying ? Let me guess a mobile phone from one of the too many mobile phone shops or someones last years Christmas presents from a charity shop................. and the rest of the units ar empty ! I would NOT be quaking in my boots if I run a private car park. Just accept Ipswich is a depressing "nothing" town with an overpriced fancy tree papering over the cracks !

    Report this comment

    the opinion man

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

  • Did my Christmas shopping in Norwich last weekend. Car park charges in The Castle Mall were £1 per hour, the same as the rest of the year. As I went to collect my car I was told 'its even cheaper in St Andrews car park'. Guess where I will be parking when the Sales start. Let's be honest all this talk in Ipswich about attracting customers into the town is just a cover for a failed regeneration programme. Why don't the powers that be eat humble pie, go along to the leaders of other local extremely successful towns and cities and ask how its done because believe you me there are no signs at all that its ever going to happen in Ipswich.

    Report this comment

    how'd the town do

    Wednesday, December 12, 2012

  • I totally agree with the opinion mans comments,well said. This town has no decent shops its all pound shops,charity shops & mobile phone shops. I am personally going to Norwich to shop where theres fantastic shops & a great market. I would like to have a moan about Ipswich market its in the wrong location which causes congestion & frustration to shoppers.it been be best in lines on Lloyds avenue where its easier to walk in a line to see whats on offer.rather than being scattered in a heap.Theres lots that need addressing in town first before offering cheap or free parking.lets give people a reason to want to shop here,at present theres nothing of real interest.

    Report this comment

    ckirk2@sky.com

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

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