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Why did Ipswich Town Hall have 30,000 extra visitors?

PUBLISHED: 16:30 31 July 2020

The Elmer's Big Parade trail generated an extra £2.4m for Ipswich's economy in 2019.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Elmer's Big Parade trail generated an extra £2.4m for Ipswich's economy in 2019. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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More than 30,000 extra people visited Ipswich Town Hall and Corn exchange last year, according to new figures, with the Elmer trail believed to be the big draw.

Visitor numbers at Ipswich Town Hall and Corn Exchange were up 30,000 in 2019/20 as a result of the Elmer trail. Picture: DAVID VINCENTVisitor numbers at Ipswich Town Hall and Corn Exchange were up 30,000 in 2019/20 as a result of the Elmer trail. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Last summer, 56 Elmers were dotted around town as part of the St Elizabeth Hospice project, raising £261,000 for the cause.

Latest data published by Ipswich Borough Council found there were 105,935 visitors to the Town Hall in 2019/20 – more than 30,000 visitors above the target 75,000 and up on the 72,319 who walked through the doors the year before.

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MORE: Elmer trail raises £261,000 for hospice

Council bosses said the Elmer’s Big Parade trail, which had its headquarters at the Town Hall and was the location for the final auction in October as well as the home of the Elefantasia Elmer, was responsible for the uptake.

Councillor Sarah Barber, portfolio holder for the town centre at Ipswich Borough Council, said: “It was brilliant – it was great for the town and great for St Elizabeth Hospice which is such a wonderful organisation to raise money for.

“I think it highlights the importance of having a really strong events programme, and that’s the good thing about the Cornhill and how it has been redesigned – it means we can put more events on there and help to draw people in.”

Mrs Barber said it was important that the town centre had “experiences you cannot get online” such as leisure, nightlife and events, alongside traditional retail.

Visits to the Town Hall for Elmer also generated extra trade for the cafe or shops and businesses surrounding the Cornhill.

MORE: £2.4m economic boost for Ipswich from Elmer trail

According to official figures, nearly 400,000 people visited Ipswich to follow the trail, generating a £2.4m boost to the town’s economy.

Interview with outgoing mayor Sarah Barber. Picture: GREGG BROWNInterview with outgoing mayor Sarah Barber. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Hospice figures suggest that 16% of visitors came from outside of the town but still from Suffolk, while 19% were from elsewhere in the UK.

While events planned for the Cornhill this year, such as the Sound City stage, have had to be cancelled, Mrs Barber said the priority was making sure people could stay safe in the town while Covid-19 was still a threat.

She added: “It’s about making sure people can enjoy themselves and do it in a manner that is safe because the last thing we want to see is a second spike.”


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