New licence for Ipswich Christmas Craft Fair will operate every year

PUBLISHED: 16:30 29 August 2020

Last year the Ipswich Christmas Craft Fair moved to a new site under the Lloyds Avenue arch.  Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Last year the Ipswich Christmas Craft Fair moved to a new site under the Lloyds Avenue arch. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Charlotte Bond

The operators of the Christmas Craft Fair on Ipswich Cornhill for the last two years have applied for an alcohol licence for future years at the site – starting in November this year.

Eden Crafts has erected a large marquee on the Cornhill over the last two years and will be returning this year.

The new licencing application runs from November 1 to December 31 every year, not for a limited period.

However, it is also applying for an alcohol licence to run in the years ahead.

The fairs have been seen as successful, attracting significant numbers of shoppers to the town centre - but have not been without controversy.

In 2018, the marquee was put up in the middle of the newly-completed Cornhill - dominating what had been promised to be an attractive open space for the town centre.

Last year, it was set up under the Lloyds Avenue arch, which was less obtrusive and attracted fewer complaints.

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However, in both years, there was concern from local traders who felt that businesses from outside the area were coming in for the busiest time of the year and taking customers who would otherwise have supported local independent shops.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said regulations around licencing had been changed earlier this year during the lockdown in a bid to ease life for traders – which was allowing firms to apply for open-ended licences like this.

He did not have huge concerns about the market because it attracts people to the town, but did not want to see it remaining unchanged indefinitely.

He also wanted to see some regulations, to ensure it did not adversely affect local businesses that were struggling.

He added: “I do have concerns about the open-ended drinks licence.

“What we don’t want to see is an open-ended commitment that the same people will be running exactly the same kind of market every year.”

The market is held under an agreement between Ipswich council and Eden Crafts Market – which also operates stalls at major events like the Suffolk Show – and was signed when the Cornhill was rebuilt in 2018.

Although the agreement covers the whole of the months of November and December, the fair itself runs for about six weeks from just after Remembrance Sunday.

It finishes a few days before Christmas, allowing the Cornhill to be clear over the festive season.

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