Ipswich Cornhill tree will go up to bring splash of colour in lockdown

The Cornhill Christmas Tree will return later this month despite the lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Cornhill Christmas Tree will return later this month despite the lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

The country may be about to go into a second lockdown – but Ipswich town centre Christmas Tree is still due to go up later this month in a bid to bring some festive colour during the bleak time of the year.

Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter has pledged to support local businesses. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich Central chair Terry Baxter has pledged to support local businesses. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

But there will be no special switch-on ceremony that normally marks the start of the Christmas shopping season.

Ipswich Central chairman Terry Baxter confirmed that the tree would be installed as planned in a statement outlining the support the group is planning to offer to members during what is usually the busiest time of the year.

He said: “The Prime Minister announced that unlimited exercise is to be available this time which, alongside essential businesses remaining open, will mean that there will still be large numbers of people in the town centre each day. Therefore, it must continue to look appealing and we will be installing the giant Christmas tree in the Cornhill in the coming weeks.”

Mr Baxter’s statement said: “Between now and Thursday, the Ipswich Central team will be available to speak to as many businesses as possible in order that we can promote those who will remain open and assist those forced to shut. Where operators can introduce new methods of operation, for example online trading or click and collect options, we will help to communicate this to customers.

“Throughout the lockdown, the entire team will remain available to businesses and the Street Ranger team will be helping to keep premises safe and secure.

“With immediate effect, we will reintroduce the partnership grouping of the Police, the Borough Council, the County Council and other stakeholders in order to ensure that issues, as they arise, are dealt with and that detailed plans are ready for the lifting of restrictions.

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“Support for businesses will be vital and it is not possible to provide everything needed at the local level. Whilst we welcome the news that the full furlough scheme is being reintroduced, businesses will need more help.

“We will be lobbying our local MPs for them to take the strongest possible message back to government to reintroduce loans and grants that will provide a financial lifeline to businesses, particularly within the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.

“In Ipswich, we all worked so hard to keep businesses safe and rates of infection amongst the lowest in the UK; therefore, assuming infection rates remain low, the Ipswich area must have restrictions lifted as early as possible and return to our tier one status. Over the next four weeks, local test, trace and isolate processes need to be ramped up and strict criteria, with a pre-planned approach to any further restrictions, agreed.

“There is no doubt that these are extremely difficult and worrying times. However, I want to reassure businesses that the combined forces of Ipswich Central and All About Ipswich stand ready to assist. We will emerge from this together.”