The role of the market is often under-appreciated in my opinion. Of course there are people who don't need to use it, there are people who choose not to use it because they think the produce is second-rate, and those who think it's too small to matter. But I do buy things there regularly, it's not second-rate, and although it is small for the size of our town that seems to me a reason for making it bigger and better.
When Sir Stuart Rose, ex-M&S boss, described in effect our town centre as the dullest place on earth he must have been looking at the Cornhill on a Monday or Wednesday with no market there. The fact is that the market brings more life to the Cornhill than anything else - and for 200 days a year in all weathers. It brings together customers, traders' shouts, chance encounters with friends, browsers, people watchers, a bit of bustle and, yes, some good value things to buy. (Fresh fruit and vegetables at a “pound a bowl” are helpful to one's wallet and health.) To me, this variety of activity is an important part of what town life is all about.
With no market there, the Cornhill is indeed a dull place because no shops face on to it, except for the corner entrance of ‘Grimwades', and it is hard to envisage the Town Hall or former Post Office being magnets for continuous comings and goings, or outdoor tables being regularly occupied as if it were the Costa del Sol.
So, in my opinion, the market should stay on the Cornhill and should be helped in every possible way to grow and diversify, especially as more and more people will come to live in the town centre. Pushing it down Princes Street and into Queen Street would be “out of sight out of mind”. Even such a temporary re-location while the Cornhill is being re-surfaced would, I think, be undesirable when the better temporary alternative would be along the adjacent parts of Tavern Street and Westgate Street where the maximum footfall is.
Some would argue that removing the market from the Cornhill would provide more scope for lots of other activities - but surely not for 200 days a year? More likely, Sir Stuart Rose would find it the dullest place on earth for 300 days a year!
[Note the anecdotal evidence that morning buses from Stradbroke to Ipswich via Witnesham are usually crowded on days when the Ipswich market operates and full of shoppers carrying bags of produce and merchandise on the return journey in the afternoons. -Ed.]