Ipswich: Businesses and council defend lights decision

Last year's Christmas lights' switch on at the Cornhill in Ipswich - this year's event will be rathe

Last year's Christmas lights' switch on at the Cornhill in Ipswich - this year's event will be rather different. - Credit: Archant

The decision not to have an official lights switch-on ceremony on the Cornhill this year has been defended by the borough and retailers after they came under fire from the town’s MP Ben Gummer.

Ipswich Central, which represents businesses in the heart of the town, and the borough council is sponsoring a day of events to mark the start of the Christmas shopping ceremony on Sunday, November 16.

But the lights will be on from the start of the day – there will be no climax to the day at 4pm.

Paul Clement said the celebrations in the town centre had been drawn up in consultation with the retailers who wanted an alternative to the set-piece switch-ons that have been seen in recent years.

He said: “It you switch on the lights at 4pm, you then have the situation where people just see them go on and then go home because all the shops are shut because of the Sunday Trading laws.

“There are also issues with the number of people on the Cornhill. It can only take about 4,000 people and we have had to turn people away in the past.”

Mr Gummer was surprised to hear that the lights would be on all day. He said: “Only in Ipswich would you have the lights switched on in broad daylight!

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“I can understand Ipswich Central’s position on this, but I would have liked to see a bit more imagination from the borough.”

The borough hopes that the day’s entertainment, which includes a market in St Peter’s Street, street entertainers, and appearances from stars of the Regent’s pantomime, will attract families and shoppers throughout the day.

The council later reviewed their decision, update available here