Traders joy as market secures future

MARKET traders in Ipswich were today celebrating after getting the go-ahead for a five-year licence to operate on the Cornhill.And they've been told the way is now clear to expand the market to neighbouring streets.

MARKET traders in Ipswich were today celebrating after getting the go-ahead for a five-year licence to operate on the Cornhill.

And they've been told the way is now clear to expand the market to neighbouring streets.

Ipswich council's executive has formally decided to negotiate exclusively with the traders' co-operative about running the market until 2010.

The new licence will start in May next year to give lawyers time to tie up all the formalities.

Until then the traders will operate under a nine-month extension to the current licence which expires next month.

The council-sponsored Act of Parliament – which cost about £60,000 in legal fees – to allow the extension of the market has now received Royal Assent.

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It actually comes into force on October 1, but the expansion will not start until the new licence comes into effect in May.

The market will be able to expand to the front of the Lloyd's TSB bank, half way up Lloyd's Avenue, down Princes Street and Queen Street, and a short way along both Westgate Street and Tavern Street.

"This is the news we had expected and hoped for," said market traders' spokesman Mike Young.

"It means we know where we are and gives us the chance to expand. I don't think it will be difficult attracting new traders now they know the market will be here on a permanent basis."

One potential point of contention is the council's insistence that the Cornhill should be clear for other events for up to 15 days a year – especially for the Valentine's Fair in February.

"We have to accept that at this stage, but many of the traders are unhappy about losing their business for a week. It does mean that the town loses something that should bring in a lot of business," said Mr Young.

"Next year we should be able to move on to the other streets during that week – but in future years they should be already occupied by new traders," he said.

"Once the market is well established over a wide area, it may be possible to move events like the Valentine's Fair to somewhere else in the town centre."

An expanded market should give the whole town centre a big boost – although Ipswich's market has done well since it moved to the Cornhill it remains much smaller than many others in the region.

Bury market is much larger than that in Ipswich, and attracts thousands of extra shoppers to the town every Wednesday and Saturday.

Last Christmas Ipswich market attracted its first coach tours of shoppers – and it is hoped that an expanded market would bring in more shoppers from a wide area.

Coaches from this area regularly go to Romford market in south Essex – now traders hope the traffic will be coming the other way.

Ipswich council leader Peter Gardiner welcomed the development.

"I am very pleased that we have taken another big step towards securing a bigger and better market for the people of Ipswich," he said.

"We are glad to be in a position to talk to the traders and everyone is confident that an agreement will be reached in the coming months."

What do you think of the market's expansion? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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