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Ipswich: Businesses fury with borough landlord at IP-City Centre

PUBLISHED: 12:18 15 November 2012 | UPDATED: 12:58 15 November 2012

Jane Vincent and Ben Gummer at IP City Centre

Jane Vincent and Ben Gummer at IP City Centre

Archant

Furious tenants at the town’s high-tech business showcase have accused their borough landlord of making life impossible for them after taking over the management earlier this year.

IP-City Centre on the west bank of the Orwell has been owned by the borough since it was set up several years ago.

However in May this year the borough took back the management of the centre which had been contracted out to NWES.

Since then they have had their broadband internet connection cut for two weeks and tenants say the borough have failed to run the centre adequately for business.

Tenants claim:

Toilets have been left unclean.

Health and safety officer have marched into offices without appointments or even knocking – a major concern when confidential issues are being discussed or viewed on computer screens.

Attempts to raise concerns with council officials have been met with indifference.

The tenants held a meeting with Ipswich MP Ben Gummer and leading Conservative councillors yesterday in a bid to bring pressure on their borough landlords.

Jane Vincent, who runs WS Training Services – the largest tenant at the centre – said she was planning to pull out of the centre as soon as her lease was up.

She said: “There have been all kinds of problems since the borough took over the management in May, but the problem with the broadband at the start of last month really was the final straw.”

Her company runs online training, including IT training – and therefore relies on connectivity. She estimated that the loss of business to her company could have cost £30,000-£40,000.

“Yet when we raised the issue, we were told by the borough: ‘I can understand the internet is quite useful these days.’ They don’t have a clue!”

William Peall, who runs Frantec – a company providing personal care services – said the loss of the internet was a disaster for his firm.

But he was also concerned at the attitude of borough staff – particularly those who walked into his office on “health and safety” inspections.

He said: “We are dealing with confidential items regarding our clients and yet these people walk straight in without even knocking.

“When we confront them they say: ‘We’re entitled to do this because we’re health and safety inspectors.’ They don’t seem to have any idea of the problems this causes us. We cannot carry on like this.”

And award-winning media firm Sales Media Evolution said the attitude of the borough had caused it serious problems.

Director Luke Gusman said: “We cannot operate without a good internet connection and yet we had two weeks when we had to rely on our iPads’ 3G connection. It’s a joke. I reckon it cost us at least £20,000.”

When someone at his company contacted the borough to complain, they were told IP-City was not a priority because there were computer problems at the borough’s Grafton House headquarters.

“That showed us how much concern they had for us,” he added.

The borough sent a letter to tenants saying: “It is extremely regrettable that this incident occured however IBC are unable to accept any liability in regard to any losses that businesses within the Centre may have occured between 1st and 12th October 2012.”

However the borough will not charge for the lease of the broadband line between 1 September and 1 March next year.

An IBC spokesman said: “A minority of tenants were affected by the loss for 10 days of an internet service provided by a third party.

“Our staff worked extremely hard to resolve the issue and got services back up and running very quickly more than a month ago. We have written to the tenants who were affected with what we believe is a generous offer.

“As with any landlord and tenant relationship, it would not be appropriate to comment in detail on contractual matters. However, we can confirm that we are working to address and resolve in an appropriate manner any issues raised by our tenants.”

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Two people suffered the effects of cold after their dinghy capsized in water off Wrabness, near Harwich.

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