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Ipswich Cornhill to get safety boost and new "Cornhenge"

PUBLISHED: 00:00 04 June 2019

Ipswich council is hoping the changes will not change the overall feel of the Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Ipswich council is hoping the changes will not change the overall feel of the Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATER

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Ipswich council has unveiled the safety changes it will be making to the Cornhill following the death of pensioner John Stow earlier this year.

The plinths on Ipswich Cornhill are to be replaced. Picture: PAUL GEATERThe plinths on Ipswich Cornhill are to be replaced. Picture: PAUL GEATER

And it is also promising to replace the controversial concrete plinths - which have earned the nickname of Cornhenge and have come under criticism from visitors since they were unveiled just before last Christmas.

The borough called in a safety expert to review the Cornhill after Mr Stow fell down at the end of January. He died in hospital the following day - an inquest into his death has still to be arranged.

The council said he found that the Cornhill complied with safety standards, but it is making changes.

The borough council is not happy with the finish of the plinths on Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATERThe borough council is not happy with the finish of the plinths on Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATER

It will treat the seats to make them darker and more obvious to walkers.

New benches and planters will be installed to remove the tapered step that has been barriered off since before Christmas.

Making the tops of the steps clearer by providing a greater colour contrast between different surfaces.

New permanent seating and planters will be installed along the edge of the slope, replacing a temporary barriers on Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATERNew permanent seating and planters will be installed along the edge of the slope, replacing a temporary barriers on Ipswich Cornhill. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Installing new railings into the centre of the each set of steps and in the corner of two sets.

The cost of this work is expected to be met by the contingency that still exists for the Cornhill work - and is not expected to be much more than £100,000. The work is to start immediately and should be completed by the main part of the summer.

The plinths are to be replaced because they were not what the council had specified. They should be more glossy, and their concrete has been stained by the rust from the plaques on them telling Ipswich's story.

New planters have been installed on the Cornhill as a permanent feature. Picture: PAUL GEATERNew planters have been installed on the Cornhill as a permanent feature. Picture: PAUL GEATER

They are expected to be replace during the early autumn and the new, more glossy, plinths should be in place by the October half term.

These will not cost the council anything because they have not paid for the original plinths - they did not meet the requirements that were stipulated and attempts to polish them to produce a more glossy appearance totally failed.

Council chief executive Russell Williams said: "We said that we would carry out any improvements and enhancements suggested by our adviser as soon as we can.

"These works are being commissioned and will be done as soon as possible. We will endeavour to ensure that the works cause as little disruption as possible."

Cornhill will be even safer for visitors to town says David Ellesmere

Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said the safety improvements would be carried out as soon as possible.

He said: "As soon as we commissioned the safety expert to look at the Cornhill we said we would do whatever was needed as soon as possible.

"We will be starting work straight away, and hope to cause as little disruption as possible, although it is likely parts of the Cornhill will be sealed off for a short time as work takes place."

He emphasised that the area was safe - but said the changes would ensure there were even more safety measures.

And the cost should not be a problem: "We had a contingency put aside for any work that was needed. That should cover these safety changes.

"And we are also going ahead with replacing the plinths - they did not meet the specifications we had set so they will be replaced at no cost to the council," he added.

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