Retailers feel ‘betrayed’ by Ipswich Council over Christmas market
- Credit: Archant
Retailers in Ipswich say they feel betrayed by Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) for giving the go ahead to a christmas craft market, at a time when many stores are battling to stay afloat.
The market will be based on the Cornhill for the next two weeks, selling a range of crafts and Christmas gifts varying from cheese to African carvings. It is run by a London-based company, Eden Crafts, which runs specialist markets across the country – including the Suffolk Show – and if it is successful, could become a regular festive event on the Cornhill.
It is the first time the Cornhill area has been used for a major event since its refurbishment was completed at the start of last month.
But not everyone was pleased to see the tents go up.
Lynn Turner, who runs Cake and Catwalk fashion accessories boutique a short walk away on St Peter’s Street, said the market came as a “big surprise” - and not a welcome one.
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“Having gone through 10 months of upheaval on the Cornhill, and the appalling treatment of the market traders, this just insult to injury,” she said. “All business in Ipswich need the Christmas pound. The marquee covers the plaza and the beautiful tree, and the traders there are not local. We all feel betrayed by the council.”
Retailers in the Saints area of Ipswich have formed a community interest company to run events in the area to promote footfall in the street, which Ms Turner claims has been down lately- “as it has been for every town.” She added: “These final weeks leading up to Christmas can make or break some shops.
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“The council could have used the new plaza for far more interesting events to draw in trade, and make car parking free to encourage visitors to the town. That would have amazing.”
Down the road from Cake and Catwalk is Maud’s Attic furniture store, where Wendy Childs says she doesn’t think that Ipswich Borough Council are listening to what local business rate payers are saying. “We have our own street market here once a year, which we have to raise funds for, and we are up at 6am putting stalls up ourselves because we can’t afford to pay the council for them to erect them,” she said.
“I would like to see the council supporting established retailers more, especially streets like ours as we are doing our bit for tourism in Ipswich.
“I accept that the council has other calls on their finances right now. But when they bring in a market like that, it’s very annoying - it’s selling a lot of the same things we are on St Peters Street.”
More events are being lined up for the Cornhill over the next few months, as the council claim that’s what taxpayers want.
An IBC spokesman explained that the majority of respondents to a survey the council conducted in the summer said they wanted to see events such as craft fairs on the new-look Cornhill.
He added: “This high quality fair, which enhances the town centre, is supported by our partners in the Ipswich Vision Group and answers some of the criticism of previous years that there has been a lack of quality with our annual festive fairs, which have taken place for several years.
“This event helps to attract visitors to Ipswich town centre, which is good news for all retailers.”