Ipswich Cornhill suffers another delay – but at last completion is near!
PUBLISHED: 16:30 18 August 2020
More than 21 months after it was first unveiled as “completed,” work on Ipswich Cornhill should be finally completed by Wednesday, according to the borough council.
That is still nearly a week longer than planned after contractors Brooks & Wood failed to meet a “final deadline” to have the work completed by August 15.
The minor works to improve safety at the Cornhill have taken more than twice as long as the actual rebuilding work in 2018 to complete – and have been privately described by some senior Labour councillors as a “total disaster” for the town centre.
The £3.6m rebuilding of the Cornhill paid for by Ipswich council, Suffolk County Council, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and contributions from business, was completed in November 2018 after nine months’ work.
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However within a few weeks there had been accidents with people tripping on the new surface and a tragedy when elderly Ipswich man John Stow died in hospital the day after falling down some of the steps.
An immediate safety audit let to the installation of some new planters to make it clearer where the steps were, and a full safety report was commissioned. That took several months to prepare and it was not until last autumn that work to implement its recommendations started.
That had to be suspended over Christmas because it started so late – and then the final section of the work was delayed when lockdown was introduced to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
When non-essential shops in the town centre did start to reopen there was frustration that the Cornhill remained a building site – but the council insisted the work would be completed by August 15.
That didn’t please everyone. One Labour councillor said: “The delays to getting these repairs finished have been a total disaster. Even with the pandemic it shouldn’t have taken from January 2019 (when Mr Stow died) until August 2020 to get some fairly minor improvements completed.”
Ongoing restrictions after the lockdown mean that most events on the Cornhill planned for 2020 have been cancelled because of problems with social distancing, but the Sunday farmers’ markets once a month on the Cornhill are due to resume in September.
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