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Task group set up to drive improvements for Ipswich event road closures after concerns following Great East Run

PUBLISHED: 06:00 30 November 2017

Ipswich butcher and borough councillor George Debman, who has launched a task and finish group looking into planning of road closures for events.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Ipswich butcher and borough councillor George Debman, who has launched a task and finish group looking into planning of road closures for events. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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A task group has been set up to make improvements for event road closures in Ipswich after the summer’s Great East Run left residents and businesses clueless to their road being closed until just days before the event.

Businesses and residents raised concerns that they were only informed of road closures for the Great East Run a week-and-a-half before the event.  Picture: ANDY ABBOTTBusinesses and residents raised concerns that they were only informed of road closures for the Great East Run a week-and-a-half before the event. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

In September homes and businesses in Cliff Lane were not informed that the road would be closed until just a week and a half before the Great East Run on September 24, leaving many raising concerns over communication of the event.

The nearby St Luke’s Church was forced to rearrange its Harvest Festival and a bowls club event was also disrupted as a result.

Now, a task group at Ipswich Borough Council has been set up to investigate where improvements can be made in which roads are closed for all events and how locals are informed.

George Debman, Ipswich Borough councillor and owner of G Debman Family Butchers in Cliff Lane who came up with the idea, said: “They say it generates huge money for the town which I can see and understand, but at the same time it created huge issues with local businesses which trade on a Sunday.

“First and foremost we will be looking at evidence and issues that have arisen, and once they have decided they are going to do it [an event] how they inform people.”

Mr Debman added that it was not about stifling events which are popular and important for the town, but about making sure they were organised correctly to lessen the impact on those in the area.

Among the areas that will be looked at will be how event organisers communicate road closures, how much advance notice is given, and whether borough and county councils can do more.

The group was launched last week at the borough’s scrutiny and overview committee, but is not due to meet properly until after Christmas.

It is hoped some early measures can be implemented ahead of next summer’s events.

Liz Harsant, chairwoman of the overview and scrutiny committee added: “I love all of those events, but we have to make sure they are organised properly.

“We will look at everything around the town and how it affects people. It can cause a lot of stress at the time and that’s what we have got to look at addressing.”

Each year closed-road events bring in thousands of people to the town, including the Ipswich Half Marathon or Great East Run, Skyride and Maritime Festival.

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