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Town needs to be ready to face changes

PUBLISHED: 10:33 22 February 2013

Felixstowe's Hamilton Road back in 1976 - far fewer independent stores today.

Felixstowe's Hamilton Road back in 1976 - far fewer independent stores today.

Archant

ACCORDING to those Tesco people Felixstowe’s town centre now has an “amazing opportunity” to reinvent itself.

Because people will no longer be travelling out of town for their main shop, Hamilton Road can provide the range of non-food stores shoppers used to go to Ipswich to enjoy.

The big question is how this will be achieved – bearing in mind Felixstowe has few large premises to attract such stores. Its largest is set to become a Prezzo restaurant.

When Woolworth closed, I wrote to both Peacocks and Primark to alert them to this big empty shop. I only hope the chamber of trade and Suffolk Coastal’s economic development team did, too.

Thirty years ago when I arrived as a reporter on the Felixstowe Times, Hamilton Road was very different.

In addition to Woolworth, we had a Currys, Timothy Whites, three butchers – including nationals Baxters and Dewhurst – plus Fine Fare. Stores that were a staple of the High Street. Shops come and go, and we are lucky to have attracted WH Smith, Argos, Dorothy Perkins and Peacocks.

Far more of our shops though used to be independents – and they could survive because these were the days before the mass exodus to Tesco Martlesham or Sainsbury Warren Heath, before the internet was in every home.

Bakers Shanks and Westbrooks, Richard Fairweather’s clothes shop, Tony Cole’s chemist, Orchard House grocers, the Surplus Store, Wakelins, Courts Furnishers, the gas and electricity board shops, Wilson Radio, Moderne Jewellers, Phillips bookstore and newsagents, Jardins shoes, Dainty Homes, Visonhire and Foster’s menswear among them.

At one time it was said Felixstowe was all shoe shops, estate agents and building societies. Now it’s coffee and charity shops.

People are saying we need new and different shops.

If the town is to reinvent itself we need to be proactive, driving the agenda – seeking opportunities, inviting companies to come and look at Felixstowe, because we are not going to be discovered by chance.

Highways bosses have announced they will be carrying out a series of improvements to the road network across Suffolk and north Essex this week.

Kebab fans will be excited to hear a new fast food outlet that prides itself on making top quality versions of the takeaway staple is opening in Ipswich soon.

Firefighters were sent to tackle a blaze that broke out in a flat in Ipswich this afternoon.

Drivers in Woodbridge have faced long delays this afternoon after a major route through the town became flooded.

The shocking prevalence of rape in Ipswich has been uncovered in an EADT and Star investigation.

Police wants to speak to two teenagers about an attempted murder in Colchester in the early hours of this morning.

Ed Sheeran has got engaged to his partner Cherry Seaborn, the Framlingham singer has confirmed on Instagram.

Emergency services have been called to the scene of a car having gone into a ditch on the A12 near Darsham

Snow could fall in parts of Suffolk on Sunday morning as temperatures are set to drop overnight.

Tourism leaders in Suffolk have teamed up to entice high-spending younger visitors to the county and place it on their “must-visit” list.

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