Town attracts shoppers from north

IPSWICH has proved so popular at attracting shoppers that worried officials in Norwich are today preparing to take drastic action to bring them back to the city.

IPSWICH has proved so popular at attracting shoppers that worried officials in Norwich are today preparing to take drastic action to bring them back to the city.

Norwich retailers fear that thousands of their potential customers abandoned the city in the run-up to Christmas, preferring to shop in Ipswich or even Great Yarmouth.

They believe Norwich's car parking crisis - three of its largest parks have been forced to close over the last three years - prompted the shoppers' desertion.

The news from the other end of the A140 came as no surprise to Ipswich retailers today.


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"This bears out exactly what we have been saying - the Ipswichristmas campaign was very successful at attracting people to shop in the town in the run-up to Christmas," said Paul Clement from the Ipswich Partnership.

"We specifically targeted people who lived up to 60 minutes driving distance away from the town, emphasising our car parks, park and ride schemes, and the standard of retailing we have to offer.

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"This was very successful - we know that - and we shall certainly be repeating the exercise next Christmas," he said.

After the Christmas mauling, controversial plans for an extra 3,000 parking spaces in Norwich city centre have been unveiled.

The ruling Liberal Democrat group has come under fire for its proposals to change a seven year cap, which limited the number of spaces in the city to 10,002.

Labour says the cap was meant to make Norwich a city for people - not cars, and afforded protection against congestion and pollution.

But with the new Chapelfield development sending the number of shops in Norwich soaring by a third by 2005, the Lib Dems want to increase the number of parking spaces to 13,000.

This would allow at least one more permanent multi-storey and one temporary car park in the city centre.

Today Norwich councillor April Pond said the city could lose out if the cap was not increased.

"We can't say on the one hand we want Norwich to be one of the top five shopping centres, and then say sorry you can't get there. We would be cutting off our nose to spite our face.

"Raising the cap is something I have been battling on about for a long time.

"Things will be difficult if we don't raise the cap. I would like the flexibility of an extra 3,000 spaces, I think it is the key," she said.

Last year the city was hit by car parking chaos and traffic gridlock.

In August hundreds of drivers trying to leave Norwich's Castle Mall found themselves stuck in stationary traffic for two hours after roadworks caused tailbacks.

During the Christmas trading period retail bosses claimed many people saw Norwich as a "no-go" area and saw shoppers opted to go to Ipswich or Yarmouth instead.

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