A fierce debate over fears Ipswich is becoming a "no-go area" raged yesterday following the arrests of five teenagers after a town centre street brawl.

The debate was sparked after Adam Rae, Ipswich Borough councillor for Alexandra ward, reacted to the news that five teenagers had been charged in connection with a fight in the Old Cattle Market as "shocking" but "very rare".

But Conservative group leader Ian Fisher said anyone who believed such incidents were rare was "burying their heads in the sand".

And Ipswich MP Tom Hunt entered the debate saying: "We need to boot troublemakers out of the town centre.''

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council Neil MacDonald said there was "no place for fighting in our town," adding that the council worked as part of the Community Safety Partnership to keep Ipswich as safe as possible.

Ipswich Star: Leader of Ipswich Borough Council Neil MacDonald.Leader of Ipswich Borough Council Neil MacDonald. (Image: Warren Page/Ipswich Council)

But Mr Fisher said: "People have been saying for years that the town is becoming a no-go area, but this has been mostly ignored by the council.

"Get a grip, else the town will continue its slow decline."

Having grown up in Ipswich, Cllr Fisher believes there has been an acceleration in crimes such as street fights in the last three or four years.

Ipswich Star: Leader of the Conservative group on Ipswich Borough Council Ian Fisher.Leader of the Conservative group on Ipswich Borough Council Ian Fisher. (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown, Newsquest)

"These aren't isolated incidents and to say they are is dismissive," he added.

"The public are fed up with it because nobody's taking their concerns seriously."

READ MORE: Five teenagers charged after street fight in Ipswich

Ipswich's MP Tom Hunt echoed this, saying that concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour have become one of the most dominant issues on the doorstep.

"It's very sad when I hear that long-term Ipswich residents are shunning the town centre and going shopping elsewhere," he said.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich MP Tom Hunt.Ipswich MP Tom Hunt. (Image: Tom Hunt)

"We can't simply brush it under the carpet and attack people for 'talking down the town' when people express their concerns."

While he was pleased to secure new funding to boost police presence, he said this needs to be coupled with an "interventionist zero tolerance approach," adding: "We need to boot troublemakers out of the town centre."

READ MORE: Police arrest man after fight in Ipswich's Christchurch Park

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce's Paul Simon said the best way to address these issues is "to put rhetorical differences to one side" and collaborate on delivering "meaningful solutions" for the town.

Ipswich Star: Paul Simon, head of public affairs & strategic communications at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.Paul Simon, head of public affairs & strategic communications at the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce. (Image: Nicky West)

He added: "So many of Suffolk Chamber's membership base are always telling us how confident they are that Ipswich, alongside the rest of the county, has a bright future to look forward to."

The Chamber of Commerce believes securing that future will be driven by improved investment, partnership working and goodwill between all communities and "a commitment to use measured and evidence language in describing our shared values and the short-term challenges we will face from time-to-time".

Speaking on behalf of Suffolk Constabulary, commander for Ipswich Superintendent Andy Martin said the force had responded "incredibly swiftly" to the street brawl, adding: "Our response illustrates how seriously we take such violent behaviour in the town

"We are determined to continue to make Ipswich a hostile environment for those who commit crime and we will always seek to bring anyone who does so to justice."

Ipswich Star: Commander for Ipswich, Superintendent Andy MartinCommander for Ipswich, Superintendent Andy Martin (Image: Suffolk Constabulary)

Supt Martin drew attention to the increased police presence in Ipswich and noted that the Constabulary is a key partner in the successful Safer Streets funding bid of almost £500,000 put forward for the town.

He also highlighted the relocation of the Kestrel team into the new Prince's Street police station and the addition of a Community Engagement Officer dedicated to the town centre at the end of last year.