Ipswich: Bus fares and parking slashed in bid to deliver autumn gold to town centre

Julie Dyson, from Ipswich Buses,David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Council, Dean Robbie, from Ip

Julie Dyson, from Ipswich Buses,David Ellesmere, leader of the Ipswich Council, Dean Robbie, from Ipswich Buses, Jackie Norbury, Manager of Marks and Spencers, Mark Kraft, from NCP, Carmelina Lesina, Cosmetics Manager at Debenhams, Paul Clement, Chief Executive from Ipswich Central and Suffolk County Councillor Graham Newman gathered in Ipswich Town Centre to launch Quids in, a scheme that starts in September offering £1 parking or bus fare into Ipswich after 3 pm. - Credit: Archant

A new bid to boost town centre trade will leave travellers quids in over the autumn.

The borough council has linked up with Ipswich Buses, the county, and the largest car park operator in Britain to offer the “Quids In” deal from September 2.

All Ipswich Buses journeys into the town centre from within the borough will cost £1 after 3pm, and there will be a £1 flat rate fee in all borough council town centre car parks and at NCP’s Tacket Street and Cox Lane parks after that time.

In a bid to attract more visitors who live outside the borough there will also be a £1 flat rate fare on the park and ride services after 3pm.

The scheme is seen as a major effort in the attempts to boost trade in Ipswich town centre during the autumn as the Christmas period approaches.

The move comes after a bruising period for Ipswich – starting with Sir Stuart Rose’s description of the town centre as “depressing”, disruption caused by the Travel Ipswich work, and the borough council being accused of a lack of vision by a leading opposition councillor.

At present it is planned the new promotion will run until mid-November – but if it proves successful there is likely to be pressure for it to carry on over the Christmas and sales period.

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It is aimed at giving retailers a boost during what is generally a quiet time of the day and also boosting the night-time economy – especially the Regent Theatre with cheap parking in the large NCP car parks.

The comprehensive nature of the offer is important – the cheap bus fares should attract Ipswich residents who may want to leave their cars at home for a night out, while the park and ride offer is aimed at those who live outside the town and might otherwise go elsewhere for shopping.The cheap afternoon car parking is aimed at spreading shoppers’ visits throughout the day – to boost the afternoon trade.

The scheme is being trialled after the borough came under pressure from businesses who were concerned that trade was being lost.

The Travel Ipswich work has put some visitors off coming to town, and the opening of new out of town centres at Futura Park (Waitrose and John Lewis) and at Martlesham Heath has added to the pressure.

However with proposals to improve the Cornhill and link the traditional town centre with the Waterfront, there is now a major campaign under way to bring more shoppers to the town.