Bright new future for market

A NEW long-term deal to secure the future of Ipswich Market - and allow its expansion - should be sorted out next week, The Evening Star can reveal today.

A NEW long-term deal to secure the future of Ipswich Market - and allow its expansion - should be sorted out next week, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The borough council is set to agree to an 18-month deal with the market traders starting next January.

Traders will continue to hold the market licence, but the Ipswich Partnership will have a key role in its administration.

The Partnership - which represents retailers and other businesses in the town centre - will be responsible for steering the market's expansion and bringing in new stalls.

Once the deal is signed it is hoped that the first new stalls will be attracted before Christmas - and there are proposals for specialist market stalls to visit the town to boost market trade.

Borough economic development spokesman Richard Atkins said: "We are hoping there will be a farmers' market in the town centre and also a fair trade market.

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"And towards the end of the year there may be a Christmas market as well - this should be the start of something big for the town.

"It is the news we have been waiting for, at last the town's market should be able to reach its true potential."

The new 18-month licence is set to be agreed at next week's meeting of the council's executive committee which is also considering a proposal to build a bandstand temporary bandstand which would sometimes be used on the Cornhill.

That would force some stalls to move to the bottom of Lloyds Avenue from time to time.

That is an area which was earmarked for the market expansion in an act of parliament passed last year.

Stallholders themselves are less enthusiastic - although they are hopeful that the new deal will end years of uncertainty about the future of the market.

Their spokesman, Mike Young, said they were aware the new deal would be offered after next week's meeting.

He said: "It's too early to say that we're near an agreement, but things are looking a bit more hopeful. There is a big concern over the bandstand.

"Any deal has to be agreed by us as well as the Ipswich Partnership - we will still have a major role in the day-to-day operation of the market."

Mr Atkins said the negotiations over the cost of the market had been handed over by the traders to the Ipswich Partnership.

He said: "I know there have already been talks between council officers and the Partnership. At the moment nothing has been agreed but things are going well."

Paul Clement from the Ipswich Partnership emphasised that negotiations were still going on, but was hopeful everything would be sorted out.

He did not think the bandstand proposal would cause major problems in the end. "That would not be a permanent structure, and I don't think it is something the traders need to worry about unduly," he said.

Mr Clement added: "The Partnership has long believed that an improved and expanded market would be good for Ipswich and it is doing all we can to give it a good future."

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