Ipswich: Our town centre has become like Dodge City at night, claim

IPSWICH: A businessman says his town centre enterprise is becoming untenable following break-ins and acts of vandalism – costing the company around �5,000.

Chris Fletcher-Lloyd, managing director of Heroes Fitness Store, in The Walk, Ipswich, said the town centre will end up empty if local decision makers fail to take action against night-time crime.

The shop’s manager Des Westlake has been faced with the aftermath of two smash-and-grab raids in recent months and is growing tired of cleaning up the mess left behind by thieves and vandals.

The business moved from its Tower Ramparts location to The Walk at the end of 2009 but has since fallen victim to two costly break-ins.

In the summer, a 21-year-old was jailed after smashing his way into the shop with a brick – causing �2,000 worth of damage – and stealing fitness supplements.

More recently, in October, another break-in landed Heroes with a �3,000 repair bill. And police have not yet been able to track down whoever was responsible.

Mr Fletcher-Lloyd, who also has branches in Norwich and Colchester, said: “Business is tough enough without us finding ourselves in Dodge City. Our insurers are not happy with the level of risk.

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“This is the result of Ipswich’s night-time economy. We’re not talking about intellectually thought out crimes.

“The town centre is becoming lawless and if it’s allowed to go to rack and ruin we’ll never get it back again.”

Mr Westlake added: “It’s pretty distressing, to say the least.

“We moved here specifically because we thought it would be good for business. And we’re doing alright considering the economic decline but a small business can’t cope with regular losses like this.

“If things folded, I wouldn’t readily find another job.”

n Are you a shop keeper or town centre business owner? Do you feel safe from night-time criminals? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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