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Market plight prompts greatest response

PUBLISHED: 16:41 10 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:19 03 March 2010

IPSWICH market's current plight has prompted a greater public response than almost any other issue in the town over the last few years.

We've been flooded with letters, survey forms and hits on our online poll - and the market traders can't get enough of our petition forms.

IPSWICH market's current plight has prompted a greater public response than almost any other issue in the town over the last few years.

We've been flooded with letters, survey forms and hits on our online poll – and the market traders can't get enough of our petition forms.

Market survey coupons are still coming in at the rate of nearly 100 a day. So far we have had 498 replies – and only two have been opposed to the market.

And it looks as if the pressure could lead to at least a partial victory as the council is set to allow the market to operate from the Cornhill at least one day a week.

The move set to be approved because councillors are anxious that the issue should be sorted out before May's local election.

The level of support for the market may have come as a shock to some officials and councillors at Civic Centre.

"When we first started expressing our concerns about the market to the council, things didn't look too hopeful," said market traders' chairman Mike Young.

"I was told 'Frankly there is hardly any interest in the market in this town,' by one official in there.

"We didn't think that was right, but we were still a bit wary about expressing our concerns in case there wasn't the support for us.

"It's really good to know so many people are backing us," he said.

As well as the market survey in the Star, our online poll has been working overtime as well.

More than 700 people have voted – and 82 per cent of them want to see the market move to a central Ipswich location.

Members of the ruling Labour group at Civic Centre are very anxious to see the market move to a central location, ideally the Cornhill and the bottom of Lloyds Avenue.

However they don't want to be seen to be influencing the council's development control committee, which is to consider a new application to move the market during the spring.

That committee is traditionally non-political and there are no party whips on members – so any political influence would be resisted.

A decision to allow the market to move to the Cornhill would clearly be popular among many voters in the town – and with crucial elections in May, councillors are unlikely to be able to ignore public opinion.

Councillors are, however, aware of concerns from some traders and residents about the idea of moving the market to the Cornhill.

There is concern that traders setting up stalls in the early morning could disturb hotel guests.

And some existing businesses in the area are concerned about access for deliveries to their premises.

On the other hand, other businesses in the area would welcome the market for bringing more people into the heart of the town.

A survey of town centre businesses by the Ipswich Partnership last year found that most were in favour of the market moving on to the Cornhill and the bottom of Lloyds Avenue – providing arrangements were made to clear up any mess at the end of the day.

"There is broad support for the market and an appreciation of the problems they face," said the Partnership's John Stebbings.

Ultimately the Partnership supported the proposal for the market to move to a permanent site in the Mint Quarter – but it accepted that an interim solution needed to be found.

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