Suffolk's media frenzy

SUFFOLK'S red-light killings have horrified the world.But today a man has been charged and the 31 police forces from across the country, along with the throngs of media from across the world who have descended on our town will start to drift away.

SUFFOLK'S red-light killings have horrified the world.

But today a man has been charged and the 31 police forces from across the country, along with the throngs of media from across the world who have descended on our town will start to drift away.

Josh Warwick takes a look at the extraordinary case and the effect that it is having on the town and its people.

SADDLEWORTH, Hungerford, Dunblane and now Ipswich.

In what seems like an instant, our county town has joined the list of infamous settings which have endured the agony of having a nightmare played out before the watching world.

Ipswich has been thrust into the media spotlight, the rural town's name tarnished by the five deaths of 19-year-old Tania Nicol, 25-year-old Gemma Adams, 24-year-old Annelie Alderton, 24-year-old Paula Clennell and 29-year-old Annette Nicholls, which have rocked a nation.

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Today, 48-year-old Steve Wright of London Road, Ipswich will face magistrates for the first time after being charged with their murders.

But while there is a human tragedy to the brutal killings, the case has had bizarre off-shoots.

The subsequent media feeding frenzy has seen national and international journalists flocking to the area in their droves to cover what has become one of the most extraordinary stories in decades.

At Suffolk police's Martlesham HQ, the scene is awash with cameras, microphones and broadcasting vans.

And this sudden media influx has created a huge demand for accommodation in our hotels and guest houses.

Peter Bartlett, general manager of the Belstead Brook Hotel, said the increase in business has been sharp and sudden.

He said: “There's been a large incline in the numbers taking up rooms.

“The interest started (last) Monday but we were already short on availability on Tuesday and Wednesday anyway, so it's been very busy.

“And the high demand has carried on since.”

A spokeswoman for the Hotel Elizabeth, Copdock, echoed Mr Bartlett's comments.

She said: “We have been full with lots and lots of news reporters.

“It's a busy time of year anyway because we have numerous Christmas parties here. But we have been full every night and not just when the parties are in either, which is unusual.

“We have had foreign journalists too. There were three German TV crews and there have been a few familiar faces from Sky News staying with us.”

Rachid Chemmaa , general manager at The Novotel, in Ipswich, added: “It's difficult to quantify it because we are very busy anyway.

“But we have had quite a lot of demand in the last few days. There have been several extra calls for accommodation.

“We have had to turn some away because we are already fully booked.

“If we had the room to accommodate the extra journalists we would have been delighted to help.”

Despite this upturn in business for hoteliers, the long term effects on tourism in the area could be at risk.

One of the many shocks of the investigation is that the killings have not taken place in town back streets, like those Peter Sutcliffe prowled in the 70s and 80s.

Instead, the horror has been played out in rural England. Nacton, Levington, Hintlesham and Copdock are traditional, peaceful and quaint villages, more likely to feature in a picture postcard than a crime scene.

Liz Harsant, leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “I don't know whether tourism will be affected, it is still too early to say.

“But we could be labelled with this for a long, long time, like Soham and Dunblane have been.

What other effects will the deaths cause? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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