Ipswich: Residents fear sex workers will be driven back on street

CONCERNED residents of the town’s London Road are today fearful of a return to the dark days when sex workers roamed the streets and urged the authorities to rethink the proposal to make cuts.

The street’s neighbourhood watch team fears that a cut in funding for the town’s prostitution strategy will see a return to the days pre-2006 before the strategy was introduced.

Earlier this month, The Evening Star revealed that county council’s spending cuts could affect the budget that contributed to the strategy, which has worked to dramatically reduce the amount of street sex workers operating in the town.

Today, Ron Alder, resident of London Road and chairman of the Neighbourhood Watch team for the area, urged councillors to think twice before pulling the funding from the strategy which was implemented in the wake of the killings of five women in 2006 by Steve Wright.

Wright – who also lived in London Road – was jailed for life following a trial in 2008.

The county council has proposed cutting �450,000 off its �1.4million budget for social inclusion and diversity and a further �100,000 from its �166,000 budget for community safety.

The county’s contribution to the strategy, in which it is a partner alongside the police, the borough council and other organisations, comes through these budgets.

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Mr Alder told the Evening Star that a cut to the funding would lead to sex workers’ return to the streets of the residential area.

“The aftermath of 2006 was the worst time of all for us residents,” he said.

“We can’t slip back to this.

“Over the years we have had meetings with the police and council and all the time we have been asking for reassurances that this funding won’t be cut.”

“This really has come like a bolt from the blue, I am very worried about what it will mean.

“It is a big shock and an even bigger concern. Residents here, my neighbours, don’t want things to go back to how they were in darker days.”

Since 2006, the London Road area – which was then seen as one of the main areas where the town’s prostitutes picked up business – has become a “pleasant and enjoyable place to live”.

But after the Evening Star broke the news of the potential cuts, Mr Alder said he was concerned that women would return to the streets.

He added: “Our street is now a pleasant place, but with this on the horizon it worries me that things will go back to the dark days.

“People are scared that it is all going to return to our front door.

“It is vital, especially for those girls, that the funds are not cut.”

n Are you concerned about the prospect of changes to the prostitution strategy? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or you can e-mail eveningstarletters@evening star.co.uk

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