The future of the ‘new’ Cornhill

One of the difficulties experienced when the market was trading on the Cornhill was that there was never a two or three day window of opportunity for other events.  Even one day events that needed the previous day to ‘set-up’ couldn’t happen without disrupting the market.

When the market moved to the Cornhill from the Civic Centre car park (off Lady Lane) in 2002 there was an attempt to allow the Valentine Pleasure Fair to continue to operate in the centre of town, but this simply didn’t work.

Given that the future of town centre retail is not looking rosy, we all – especially the local authority – need to do some things differently to maintain footfall, increase visitor numbers and attract residents from a twenty mile radius into the county town.

One possibility is to leave the market where it is, in Queen Street, Giles Circus and upper Princes Street.  Queen Street has been pedestrianised and an underground electrical supply to each pitch has been installed.

The Giles Statue was moved to its current location in 2010, the surrounding paving was renewed in York stone, but there is no underground infrastructure for the market.  Today, on market days, the electrical supply is overhead: a melée of wires and cable ties.

Upper Princes Street, the length between Giles Circus and the Cornhill was resurfaced in 1988 at the same time as the ‘golden mile’ but it isn’t included with the new surfacing to the Cornhill this time around.  Should the main stalls of the market remain in this location, they still won’t enjoy an underground electricity supply, there is no running water and the stalls will stand on the old brick paving between two new sections of natural stone.

Remaining here will, however, allow a multitude of different events to take place on the new Cornhill, particularly on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a long weekend event.

Events such as cultural festivals could move from other parts of the town, notably the parks, ensuring an audience for performance, dance and street theatre.  Charities could promote themselves and local societies could set up a stall to attract new members, bands could perform and people could gather to mark special occasions, much as outside the Foyer in Norwich.

Moving the market off the Cornhill and using the space for alternative activity is not my idea but rather the view of Stuart Rose who came to Ipswich in 2012 to tell us how to improve the town.  Keeping the market traders where they are is likely to be endorsed by the Borough Council before the Cornhill repaving work is complete.

Do we accept the fact that the market isn’t coming back on to the Cornhill as a faît accompli or do we fight, insisting the Council keep its promises?  Do email the Secretary and let us know.

John Norman