Town leaders' closed shops opinions

SCORES of empty shops in Ipswich does not mean that retail in the town centre is on the decline, leading figures in the community said today.

SCORES of empty shops in Ipswich does not mean that retail in the town centre is on the decline, leading figures in the community said today.

Following an investigation into the state of shopping in the town, The Evening Star last month revealed that around 100 shops in Ipswich are closed for business.

The star has launched the We're Backing Ipswich campaign in an attempt to boost some of the town's less fortunate streets.

Labour MP for Ipswich Chris Mole said he is concerned by the situation but believes that Ipswich is on the up.

He said: “I think one is always worried when you see empty shops in the centre of town.

“Generally the main strip through Carr Street to Westgate Street is generally not too bad but you often get closed shops in secondary areas particularly when those areas are in transition because there's a development forecast like the Mint Quarter.

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“It is quite difficult for people locally to do anything about it because of the size of some of the units.

“I don't think Ipswich will be in the position of a Norwich or Cambridge until it is of the same size as a Norwich or Cambridge which is why I support growth of the town.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said he is confident Ipswich is on an upward trend with huge investment in the Waterfront and town centre developments in years to come likely to boost the town's retail scene.

He said: “You only need to look at the skyline of Ipswich and see the cranes to know that Ipswich is going places.

“There is a lot of regeneration especially around the Waterfront area and Ipswich has recently launched the BID to make the town a better place to shop, work and visit.

“Ipswich certainly is on its way up.”

Leader of the Labour group at Ipswich Borough Council, David Ellesmere, said it is important the council plays its part in improving the situation.

He said: “I think the council has a role to play in attracting retailers into Ipswich and we do know that the council as a landlord has been increasing its rent for the shops it owns which obviously doesn't help.

“Ipswich is expanding and there is major development on the Waterfront and the town is going to become a more attractive place for retailers in the future.”

N What do you think can be done to encourage more retailers into Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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