Mystery over car dealership

SIGNS telling customers that "business is suspended" have been put up at a car dealership which has mysteriously disappeared without trace.The Jewell servicing centre and sales site in High Street, Wickham Market, was suddenly left empty a month ago but no-one knows why.

SIGNS telling customers that "business is suspended" have been put up at a car dealership which has mysteriously disappeared without trace.

The Jewell servicing centre and sales site in High Street, Wickham Market, was suddenly left empty a month ago but no-one knows why.

Parish councillors and villagers are keeping a close eye on the site, which they want to see kept for employment uses as it provided vital jobs for the area.

Each night the huge site is floodlit by giant security lights, but there is nothing to protect at the rear except an enormous and empty car lot.

Not long before Jewell's vacated the site, expensive cars were attacked on two nights with vandals pouring battery acid over paintwork, causing more than £20,000 of damage.

One resident said all the cars along the forecourt frontage were damaged and a number of those in the compound behind.

Most Read

It is not known whether the attacks were related to the decision to move, or if the decision to leave the site had already been made for other reasons.

Since the site was emptied, someone has returned to put up the notices on the doors and windows, which say "Customer notice - business suspended. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience".

But there are no details of where the company has moved to or how customers can contact them, though someone has been visiting the site to collect post.

Parish clerk Cath Caudwell said the site was likely to be discussed at the next parish council meeting on November 15, though she had been unable to find out any information about why Jewell's had left.

She said councillors' main concern would be the future of the site. An outline planning application to use it for housing was made some years ago but then withdrawn. Councillors would probably want to see it remain in its designated use for employment.

They would also been keen to ensure the site - one of the most prominent on the road into the village from the A12 - did not become unkempt if left empty.

Under a previous car dealership, the garage - which was extended 12 to 14 years ago when the landowner purchased an old house and gardens at the rear - also sold petrol and the pumps and tanks still exist, though mothballed at present.

The premises comprise a large servicing centre, reception and offices, sales centre, portable buildings and an old boarded up property. Barriers have been locked into place at the front to prevent access.

The business, which operated under a parent company Mendlefleet Ltd, was run by Mark Jewell. It previously operated from Barrack Square at Martlesham where it displayed cars on one of the county's busiest roundabouts, but moved from there to Wickham Market.

Companies House said the company was still active.

No-one was available from Jewell's to comment today.

n What do you think should happen to the site now? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter