Anti-social behaviour affecting town centre businesses, warns MP

Carr Street in Ipswich

Carr Street in Ipswich, which is home to some vibrant micro-stores says MP Tom Hunt - Credit: Google Maps

Retailers in a key Ipswich streets are feeling “overlooked and forgotten” – despite their vibrant businesses, the town’s MP has warned.

Tom Hunt says areas such Carr Street and Dial Lane should be supported – but footfall appeared to be suffering because of anti-social behaviour.

Mr Hunt encouraged local people to visit Carr Street’s Ipswich Micro-shops indoor market – which opened in June – and suggested independents would be key to rebuilding the town centre.

He described it as a place with “a lot of potential”, and said business owners starting up with a small store there had ambitions to open bigger operations down the line. It was “one of a kind” and a “really unique place to shop”, he said.

“Boosting independent businesses and supporting local business owners is really important to me,” he said. “The Micro-shops on Carr Street are exactly the kind of ventures we should be getting behind.”

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He added: “I think this is a real celebration of our independent shops and local businesses owners, and will be working to support each of them in their ambitions to make a success of their stores and of Carr Street.”

But a “recurring theme” in conversations with constituents and local businesses was safety in the town centre and anti-social behaviour deterring visitors from spending to spend more time in the town, he said. 

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The town hopes to boost footfall with measures such as the Digital Town Centre project – part of the Town Deal fund – which aims to bring high-speed free wi-fi, digital screens and more connectivity.

“We want to see footfall in the town centre increase, particularly somewhere like Carr Street where some of the vendors feel like it has been overlooked and forgotten,” he said.

“I know that Dial Lane, for example, has had a number of businesses’ windows smashed. To support our town centres – and make them a place that our residents want to go and spend time and money – we must tackle anti-social behaviour.”

He is one of a group of Suffolk MPs urging the Home Office to review its Police Funding Formula – which critics have argued for some time is unfair to the county.

And he is calling for more police officers in the town centre and prevent crime and anti-social behaviour as part of the ongoing campaign.

Although Suffolk has received 54 additional officers in Suffolk and is benefiting from the Safer Streets Fund, the MP still thinks there is more to be done and claims the force is underfunded.

Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said he welcomed the MP’s support for fairer funding for the county’s force. 

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, urged people to act responsibly, to avoid putting extra pressure on the police - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“I know I sound like a stuck record on this, but I am not giving up on the issue,” he said.

“My ultimate goal is to get a fairer settlement from government to fund policing in our county – because when the funding from the Home Office and your council tax is combined, Suffolk is one the lowest funded forces per head of population in England and Wales.

“We are still waiting for the funding formula work to be carried out by the Home Office but I have been assured a review will be completed by the next general election and to be honest, it can’t come a moment too soon. Suffolk deserves a fairer slice of the cake and I will continue to lobby on behalf of the people of Suffolk to get a fair share of police funding.”

He fully supported the MP’s ambition to increase the footfall in the centre of Ipswich, improve the visitor experience and support local businesses.

“We need to work together to make our county town the best it can be.  The project in Carr Street is exactly the sort of enterprise we need to encourage to give the town centre a boost,” he said. 

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “We fully appreciate the distress antisocial behaviour and related criminality can have and they should rest assured that, where necessary, robust action will be taken when we need to.

“Officers from the Safer Neighbourhood Team carry out targeted patrols in the shopping area and we liaise closely with the business community and members of the public to address the issues.

“The extra officers are very welcomed and we are also exceptionally grateful for the valuable role that the public play in being vigilant and reporting any signs of suspicious behaviour.

“As an emergency service we always deploy based upon the risk presented to our communities and the harm caused and we endeavour to respond effectively, prioritising crime in progress or danger to people.”

Mr Hunt expressed his admiration for Carr Street’s new independents such as Cookie Barista, Central Vintage and The Nerd Hut.