Round one to the market traders

TRADERS at Ipswich market were today heading for a famous victory after they won the first round of their battle for a three-day market on the Cornhill.

By Paul Geater

TRADERS at Ipswich market were today heading for a famous victory in their battle for a three-day market on the Cornhill.

Ipswich council backed down in its proposal that the market could move into the heart of the town only on a Saturday.

The borough's development control committee was today considering the proposal.

The meeting comes just hours after the council's executive committee backed moves for the market to move to the Cornhill three days a week.

After the executive gave its backing to the move, it would be a major surprise if the planners turned it down.

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The executive decided last night that the market could operate from the Cornhill on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until September.

By then a new market operator should be appointed – and a medium-term future for the 800-year-old market should become clearer.

Only 30 stalls will be permitted on the Cornhill – a combination of the current general market which has nine regular traders and the existing craft market.

Traders fear that if it is successful, a new operator will move in and try to run a larger market which could be forced back to the Civic Centre car park.

But if the market is successful on the Cornhill – and judging from the response of the public there is a great deal of goodwill out there – it would be political suicide for any councillors to try to move it away.

Council spokesman for planning and economic development Phil Smart told last night's meeting that the market would only be able to occupy part of the Cornhill which was owned by the borough.

"It cannot go on to the highway land," he said. "Places where markets do operate on the highway is either through historic precedent or because they are turning a blind eye to the situation. We cannot do that."

Mr Smart said that the one-day a week option had been agreed with the traders at the end of last year, but they had since changed their minds and wanted the market on the Cornhill three days a week. The council would not oppose that.

His Labour colleague John le Grys told the executive everyone was anxious that the situation should be resolved.

"It's very frustrating, I know I speak for everyone in this room when I say we all want the market to survive and flourish," he said.

After last night's meeting market traders were already preparing to come back today.

"We are concerned about what will happen later in the year, but so far things are looking all right," said traders' spokesman Mike Young.

"The support of the public and from the Evening Star has been absolutely crucial in getting us this far.

"We've shown that people who told us there was no support for the market in this town were wrong," he said.