Ipswich town centre can become "leading centre for bespoke independent retailers"
PUBLISHED: 16:31 18 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:31 18 November 2019
Grant funding for independent businesses in Ipswich town centre is being made available in a bid to encourage more people to use the high street.
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Ipswich Borough Council has launched a £25,000 pot for small and independent firms in the centre of town to apply for, specifically around improving the look and appearance to entice shoppers. According to the council, it aims to make shops visually appealing to attract more shoppers and increase town centre spend to boost the area's economy. Grants of up to £1,000 have been made available with five businesses already having been successful - Image Beauty Salon, Berridges Jeweller, Woodward Markwell Insurance Brokers, Arlingtons restaurant and the Swan and Hedgehog pub. Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere, Labour, said: "As large national retailers continue to struggle, independent businesses are going to become increasingly important for our town centres. "Our grants scheme is designed to help independent retailers start or grow in Ipswich town centre. "The first five grants we have awarded will help create or support around 16 jobs. "I am particularly pleased that we have been able to help play a part in bringing the Swan public house back into use. There is still money available in this grant pot and we would welcome further applications." The scheme is being funded from housing developer contributions and existing council budget pots, and is open to new independent businesses opening as well as those already established. However, the condition on grants being awarded is that it is match funded. Ian Fisher, leader of the council's Conservative group, said the group was fully behind the project, and added: "We are all aware that the retail landscape is changing rapidly and we need to ensure that we are being as proactive as we can to offer fresh ideas to re-invigorate the town centre. "As councillors we have little control over government policy so cannot change the position most large national retailers find themselves in, but we can have a beneficial effect on those smaller retailers that can be a lifeline to a struggling area. "Our policy is one of not copying established shopping centres such as Norwich and Chelmsford but to find a niche that we can be the best in, and we believe that Ipswich can become a leading centre for smaller, bespoke independent retailers. "We must do more to encourage footfall back into the town centre, small schemes such as this are the way forward but we must not stop there. "We need to ensure Ipswich can offer something that other local centres cannot by playing to our strengths. "Let's become a leading destination for culture and leisure alongside providing a thriving retail sector buoyed by local businesses."