Ipswich: Businesses say area must be improved as trade continues to suffer due to roadworks

AS the devastating effects of long-running roadworks continue to blight part of Ipswich, businesses in the area today called for a major revamp of a “forgotten part of town”.

Shop owners in Fore Street, Orwell Place, Upper Orwell Street and Eagle Street say their trade has suffered since work to replace gas pipes in the area began more than five months ago.

During an emotionally-charged meeting between businesses, the borough council, the county council and National Grid yesterday, calls were made to regenerate the neighbourhood.

Former councillor Jane Chambers, who chaired yesterday’s meeting, said: “This is a forgotten part of town and one of the most historic parts of town. We need to fight for it.”

Sheryl McGeown, landlady of the Spread Eagle pub, added: “Something needs to be done to kick-start this historic part of town and we can’t wait on this.

“We are all hanging on a string desperately trying to fight for our businesses.”

Cheryl Davey, one of three partners who own Ladies That Lunch in Fore Street, said her business has been severely hit by the repair work.

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“I think people just can’t see an end to it all,” she said.

“We are all struggling to keep our businesses alive and I don’t think we are necessarily getting the support we need.

“The next meeting with the borough council is important because we need to revive this end of town. We are being completely forgotten about in the grand scheme of things.

“They keep saying the work will hopefully end sooner but let’s be real – businesses are struggling so much that we might not be here by then.”

A joint statement from Ipswich Central and the borough council said: “We shall work together and with local businesses in Fore Street to come up with ways to better promote this unique area of the town centre.”

A spokesman for National Grid, which is carrying out the work, said: “Following our meeting with businesses on Upper Orwell Street, National Grid was able to reassure them how important the work in their neighbourhood is.

“The main near their property is vital to ensure a safe and reliable gas supply for the people of Ipswich. It is a very large pipe which is buried much deeper than usual.

“To replace it requires major specialist engineering work, which is complex and does take time.

“We are doing all we can to finish this work by the end of October. The renewal of this main will keep the gas flowing to the town until the end of the century.”

Representatives from the borough and Ipswich Central will meet with shop owners to see how the area can be revived and transformed.