Retailers hit by parking blow

Town centre bosses have today highlighted their concerns about the sudden closure of Ipswich's busiest car park in the run up to Christmas.

IPSWICH: Town centre bosses have today highlighted their concerns about the sudden closure of Ipswich's largest car park in the run up to Christmas.

Ipswich council suddenly closed the Crown Car Park yesterday. It will remain shut until further notice for emergency repairs.

The borough has called in contractors to investigate after a routine inspection, carried out as part of a 25-year programme to maintain the car park, revealed potential structural problems.

A spokesman for the council said the problems were detected on the top two levels of the multi-storey, prompting the immediate closure until a more comprehensive investigation can be carried out.

The findings of the emergency structural engineering report, due next week, will determine the next step in the course of action taken by the council regarding the future of the car park.

With people flocking to the town centre today thinking about starting their Christmas shopping, the closure of the multi-storey car park has come as a major blow.

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But Ipswich Central, the partnership which runs the town centre, backed the council's move yesterday and said the public's safety must come first.

Executive Director Paul Clement said: “With regards to the closure of Crown Street Car Parks due to structural issues, public safety must come first and the decision is unarguably the right one.

“However, the availability of spaces and the pricing of these spaces are crucial to attracting large numbers of visitors to Ipswich in the pre-Christmas period.

“The timing of this announcement is obviously therefore a concern. We would recommend that Sunday shoppers on the run up to Christmas who usually use The Crown Street Car Park take advantage of the Park for a �1 all day promotion at Foundation Street Car Park instead.”

The borough apologised for any inconvenience caused to motorists and visitors to the town centre and urged people to used alternative car parks, including the park and ride services in the meantime.

The Crown Car Park opened in the 1970s on the site of a former surface car park.

For many years it was the largest car park in Ipswich.

In the 1980s it was found to be suffering from “concrete cancer” and a long-term maintenance programme was introduced.

The car park has 1001 spaces - a huge number to lose at the start of the Christmas period.