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Ipswich Cornhill upgrade work IS on target, insists council, despite slow progress

PUBLISHED: 15:13 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:06 09 July 2020

The Cornhill in Ipswich is currently blocked off while work takes place  Picture: ARCHANT

The Cornhill in Ipswich is currently blocked off while work takes place Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere has insisted that refurbishment work on the town’s Cornhill will be completed by the middle of August and that it will be fully reopened in time for the late summer.

Work at the Cornhill started last autumn Picture: ARCHANTWork at the Cornhill started last autumn Picture: ARCHANT

However businesses trying to attract shoppers back to the town centre have been frustrated by how long the work is taking to make the area safer after a series of accidents 18 months ago.

There has been particular frustration when there is no work going on at all despite the area remaining closed off to the public.

Mr Ellesmere said work was continuing, and was on schedule – the lack of action earlier this week was because it was entering a new phase with different contractors moving in.

He said: “I make no apology for the fact that we are doing a thorough job and are implementing the recommendations of the independent safety report we commissioned into the Cornhill. It is still going to be completed by the middle of August.”

MORE: Cornhill work still not complete as shoppers return

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The work started last autumn but was suspended over the Christmas and New Year period – then as the crucial final stages were about to arrive the whole country went into lockdown which meant a suspension of work and then it was re-started with social distancing which was making it take longer.

Ipswich Central chief executive Paul Clement said some of his members did find it frustrating that the work had not been completed 18 months after the accidents – including the death of Ipswich shopper John Stow – but he appreciated the need for a thorough job.

He said: “Much of the work has been done during the lockdown when there were many fewer people in the town centre but there is some frustration that now people are starting to return they are finding the heart of the town still incomplete.

“We are all looking forward to when it is completed and we are able to see new seating out there for people to use.”

When it is completed there will be some new surfaces on the steps and new railings to steady people using them. There are also new railings being installed on the steps to the entrance to the Town Hall.

The new work is costing the council an extra £373,000 on top of the £3.6m it cost to rebuild the Cornhill in 2018 – leaving a total bill of just under £4m.


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