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Shabby treatment leads to loss of market

PUBLISHED: 23:59 24 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 March 2010

IPSWICH council's treatment of the town's market traders shows a major flaw in the way it operates.

Put simply, it's unable to make any decision without calling for reports from three outside experts, the input of a couple of working parties and a consultation exercise involving a few dozen hand-picked citizens.

IPSWICH council's treatment of the town's market traders shows a major flaw in the way it operates.

Put simply, it's unable to make any decision without calling for reports from three outside experts, the input of a couple of working parties and a consultation exercise involving a few dozen hand-picked citizens.

Once they've all given their opinion, the council will then defer a decision until it hopes everyone else has forgotten about it!

In the case of the market this seems to have worked well. Councillors have put of a decision so often that the market has withered on the vine and is now down to just stall-holders.

And to add insult to injury economic stagnation (sorry development) spokesman Philip Smart then whines that they've been crying wolf.

Wake up! They haven't been crying wolf. They've been shutting up shop and moving to more lucrative pitches elsewhere.

The nine stalls left will be out like a shot as soon as they find another town which actually wants them.

Ipswich council should realise that economic development doesn't begin and end with computers and flash slogans like IP-City and Ipswich Village which are meaningless to many people – and must also include nuturing old economy businesses which people value, like the market.

TWO months after the Ipswich by-election, new MP Chris Mole is preparing to make his maiden speech in the House of Commons.

He's planning to speak in the debate about local government finance next Wednesday – but don't expect anything too controversial.

Maiden speeches are always heard in silence by political foes as well as friends – and are designed to be a gentle entry into the world of parliament.

Mr Mole will be expected to say a lot about the town he represents. He will pay tribute to his predecessor Jamie Cann. And he will thank the voters of the town for putting him there in the first place.

But will his mind – and that of his supporters – be totally focussed on the speech?

He may well be on his feet during the evening when Ipswich are playing a vital home Premiership match with Fulham.

And I have to confess this political editor will be far keener on reaching my seat at Portman Road by kick-off than I will be in watching Mr Mole's speech on BBC Parliament!

Our new MP now has a base in London – he's renting a small flat near Westminster Cathedral, within easy walking distance of the House of Commons.

"It's very, um, bijou," he told me. "You mean it's a converted broom cupboard," I replied.

"Yes – but my home is very much in Ipswich but as an MP I do need a base in London," he explained!

I WAS interested – and very impressed – to hear about the proposal to turn the Triangle in Hamilton Road into a new town square for Felixstowe.

It's a tremendous idea and would bring a new focus into a town centre which has improved out of all recognition over the last decade.

It's not as large as Ipswich, of course, but Felixstowe has been doing very well in attracting shoppers from the county town.

They're attracted by the range of shops on offer, the easy access to the town – you don't get the traffic jams you have in Ipswich – and, crucially, the ease and cheapness of parking.

A new square will help to give Felixstowe more of a focus – especially if it is linked with an extension of the pedestrianisation of Hamilton Road.

Get rid of the traffic every day of the week, not just Saturdays, and you'll see more street furniture, attractive stalls, and more people keen to spend their money in the town.

But there is just one extra thing that needs to be done to really give Felixstowe a boost.

At present there is a divide between the town and the beach – this needs to be closed so people don't feel they have to get in their cars to go from one to the other.

A couple of years ago there was a tremendous little road train introduced linking the town and railway station with the seafront.

It withered away because of bureaucracy and red tape. What a pity.

There are great facilities in the town, but they need a link like that – the trip down Bent Hill in the road train had to be experienced to be believed!

Let's hope that the councillors and business community in the town pull together and bring the train back this summer!

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