Does Ipswich need to improve its image?
PUBLISHED: 16:12 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:30 18 July 2019
Independent Ipswich businesses are being offered new grants to help spruce up their shop fronts, boost trade and improve the town's image.
The £25,000 scheme from Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) comes just weeks after Suffolk was snubbed by central government for a share of the £675million designated to regenerate the nation's struggling high streets.
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Every borough and district council in Suffolk submitted at least one bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
However, none received a share of the funding.
This new initiative will see businesses receive Town Centre Retail Grants of up to £1,000 to improve the appearance of their shop front.
Cathy Frost, who has run Loveone in St Peter's Street for 12 years, welcomed the council's support.
She explained many small independent firms do not have the budget to update their exterior and such projects can often be left on the back-burner.
"The high street isn't dying, it's changing," she said. "Small businesses add colour and variety to the town but don't always get a lot of help, certainly not from central government.
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"Not unlike any other town in the country Ipswich is finding it hard at the moment so anything that can help businesses look their best is a positive.
Ms Frost pointed to Ed Sheeran's upcoming Chantry Park gigs and their accompanying exhibition as a perfect opportunity for the town to showcase the independent stores which help define it.
She added: "It's great because we are going to be seeing a lot of new people coming into the town.
"We have the opportunity to showcase our town in a good light, we must make sure we capitalise on that.
"No-one is immune from what is happening on the high street. We need to be protecting this community and become a place people want to visit."
All freehold owners and leaseholders with at least five years left on their lease within Ipswich town centre are eligible to apply.
IBC leader David Ellesmere said the scheme will boost the town's image.
"We are committed to enhancing Ipswich's vibrant and mixed retail offer," he said.
"The introduction of these grants will do just that by giving local businesses the support they need to grow, as well as helping to improve the image of the town centres amongst locals and visitors."