Sir Stuart Rose
Ipswich's second Beacon Town conference
14 September 2012
I'm not sure if Sir Stuart had read the Mary Portas Report or simply chose to ignore it but some of his suggestions were different from hers. Sir Stuart suggested that the town needed smartening up, which is true, but both Ipswich Borough Council and Ipswich Central might take exception to some of the detail in achieving this, given that they both make serious contributions to litter and graffiti removal.
He went on to suggest a few trees would improve the impressions visitors get but fails to realise that it is almost impossible to plant trees amongst the mass of underground services in city streets. (We tried when Duke Street roundabout was changed, and there might be one, but only one, when the junction of Museum Street and Friars Street outside Willis is improved later this year.)
His most controversial suggestion was to move the 'scruffy' market away from the Cornhill and replace it with continental style tables and chairs. Given that it has taken at least 30 years for the market to progress from Tower Ramparts to Crown Street to Civic Centre to the Cornhill, and that Mary Portas places great emphasis on a market to bring footfall, the Borough Council is unlikely to take up the former M&S Chairman's suggestion. However, the Council leader did jump up and promise £200,000 of public funds to implement some of these suggestions. I'm sure details will follow.
Sir Stuart also suggested improvements to the route from the station to the town centre (clearly nobody had told him of the Â£21 million investment which includes the removal of subways under the Princes Street roundabout) and implied we need better signposting. My opinion is that the newly installed diagrammatic monoliths are simple and clear, and I note that the same map has been launched in a paper version as an Ipswich town centre walking map, available from the Tourist Information Centre.
It was good to see a number of Ipswich Society members at the conference. I was able to invite them via e-mail after the last Newsletter had gone to press. If you want to be included in similar alerts, please let the Secretary have your e-mail address.