Bar owner calls for new approach to bring Ipswich town centre together
PUBLISHED: 12:04 03 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:34 03 June 2019
Ellen Widdup/Prominent PR
Ipswich's town centre and waterfront need to be brought together if the town is to thrive, a local businessman claims.
Peter Gwizdala, who owns Arlingtons bar and café in Museum Street, said more needs to be done to get the town moving in a positive direction, including a cut in business rates.
"How about reducing business rates, pedestrianising more of our wonderful town, encouraging independent retailers and improving something as simple as signposting?" he said.
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"How about shouting out about the positives of this town - its beautiful buildings, its entrepreneurs, its trading history, its university and its independent businesses? The areas behind the town centre such as the triangle between Aqua Eight, Arcade Tavern and Arlingtons, as well as the waterfront.
"Let's be proactive and actually get it moving in a positive direction."
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Labour-led Ipswich Borough Council launched a £9,000 leisure and retail study, with findings due to be published over the summer, which proposes looking at the challenges facing town centre firms and threats from out-of-town retail parks and online shopping.
The Conservative group has proposed creating a multi-use arena in Portman Road to bring people into Ipswich, but Mr Gwizdala claimed parts of the town got more attention than others, causing a divide. The waterfront got most of the council and Ipswich Central's attention and, most recently, the Cornhill in the town centre.
"I have no issue with Portman Road being better utilised but if anyone thinks that this is going to regenerate the town centre, they will be very much mistaken," he said.
"People will drive in and use the many car parks which service the ground and use the catering facilities at the ground. They will then get in their cars and drive away. If they do come in by public transport, they may even use the one pub which they would walk past to get to Portman Road, but that's it. To think that the town centre will be 'saved' as a result is a fallacy."
Mr Gwizdala argues that the plans need to unite the town centre and waterfront.
"To do that and benefit both areas, we need to engage with the residents of Ipswich in those plans from the start," he said. "It is clear that we could save a heck of a lot of taxpayers money by listening to those at the coalface."