Ed Sheeran may bring disruption for some - but Ipswich shows will boost town
PUBLISHED: 05:30 25 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:22 25 July 2019
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We're now just a month away from Ed Sheeran's concerts in Ipswich's Chantry Park - and it's clear they will be the highlight of the year for many people from Ipswich, Suffolk and wider afield.
I also understand that many people living in the Chantry area - and in fact in other parts of the town - will suffer four days of disruption over the Bank Holiday weekend.
But I'm convinced it will all be well worth it for the profile it gives Ipswich - and the economic boost it gives the town.
I must confess, I'm not the greatest fan of Mr Sheeran's music. There's nothing wrong with it as such but I just don't think it's really that memorable. But I accept many millions of people feel differently to me about it.
And 160,000 of them will be heading to Ipswich at the end of next month - and spending their money in the town!
I know it will be difficult for people living on Chantry or the residential streets off Hadleigh Road to get about by car. I know London Road itself will be a bit of a nightmare with one carriageway closed during the concert season.
But I still think it will be worth it - and we have all had plenty of advance warning to make alternative arrangements.
Frankly anyone living on Chantry who has organised a big family barbecue in the back garden over the bank holiday weekend has only themselves to blame if they find their plans disrupted - this concert season has been on the calendar since this time last year.
We all have to sometimes change our plans to fit in with other events. When Ipswich Town has a home match we have issues getting to and from our office.
If you do organise this mythical barbecue ages in advance, how do you know the heavens won't open? Everyone should know about these concerts and be able to make plans accordingly.
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I've seen some quite ridiculous comments about it: Why not hold it at Trinity Park rather than Chantry Park? Okay, great if you live in Chantry - but you'd just be shifting the disruption towards the thousands of people who live at Warren Heath.
The other thing about Chantry Park is that it is within walking distance from the town centre for the vast majority of fans (and there are facilities for those who have disabilities) and it is even on the right side of the town centre for the railway station - and Greater Anglia and Network Rail have ensured there should be many extra seats and no disruption for concert goers.
And this does, of course, mean that people who arrive early for the concert or make a weekend of it by staying in a hotel in the town will have time to explore (and hopefully spend money in) the town centre and Waterfront.
That is the real benefit for the town - and like all large towns and cities Ipswich can do with the tourist spend.
Because Ipswich is not in isolation in suffering from serious economic challenges. We visited Canterbury last week which is a very prosperous small(ish) city with a major tourist industry thanks largely to its cathedral.
But it had shops which had closed and were boarded up. There were homeless beggars on the streets. Its Debenhams is due to close early next year. It still feels prosperous - but the challenges are there.
One way Ipswich can meet those challenges is by holding major events like this - whether it is the Ipswich Music Day which brings people from a basically local area into Christchurch Park (and encourages them to also visit the town centre) - or major concerts like Ed Sheeran that attract people from a much wider area.
Now of course all these major events do cause disruption to those who live nearby. I get that it will be a pfaff for people living off Hadleigh Road to have permits to get to their homes, but isn't that better than finding the area so clogged up that you can't move anywhere?
I saw one person describing the issuing of parking permits to residents for four days as "Ipswich Council acting like Soviet Russia." Really? Just think how stupid you look before putting that kind of comment online!
For the bank holiday weekend I would advise people living in that part of south west Ipswich to plan ahead, stock up with groceries before it starts. Don't plan any major social events.
But do embrace the fact that Ipswich is on the map for a major event with national or even international appeal. And cherish the knowledge that for thousands of people this visit to the town will provide them memories to last years!