Can Bury St Edmunds compete with the city of Cambridge?

Bury is thriving as a shopping location. Abbeygate Street.

Bury is thriving as a shopping location. Abbeygate Street. - Credit: Archant

Bury St Edmunds is looking to the west towards Cambridge in a bid to draw visitors from further afield.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Gregg Brown

This financial year the town’s Business Improvement District (BID) group, Ourburystedmunds, will be focusing on attracting people from the west of Bury along the A14 corridor.

Ourburystedmunds chief executive, Mark Cordell, felt the town had successfully been enticing visitors from the east and Ipswich, but to extend its customer base it needed to look west, as well as towards south Norfolk and north Essex.

“What we are looking to do is spread the word about Bury St Edmunds to the west of Bury this year in the direction of Cambridge, Ely and Haverhill,” he said.

When asked whether the market town - which has a population of about 40,000 - could compete with the city of Cambridge, he said: “I think we have a different offer, but I always consider Bury to be a bit of a mini Cambridge in terms of culture, history and retail.


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“The car parking charges are a lot cheaper in Bury.”

He added: “If they come here and see what we have got I am confident they will come back, but we have got to work harder to get them here.”

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Part of the BID’s marketing strategy involves targeting Cambridgeshire with adverts.

“In the last three or four years Bury has changed considerably for the better and we want more and more people to know about this. The purpose of the BID doing this is we think it will bring greater business opportunities for our members,” Mr Cordell added.

Some of the events Ourburystedmunds puts on in the town are the summer food and drink festival, the Whitsun Fayre and the Christmas lights switch-on.

Alaric Pugh, cabinet member for economic growth at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said part of the council’s plan for jobs and economic growth was about developing better links with Cambridge.

“Cambridge is the great economic phenomenon of the East of England so why wouldn’t we want to create opportunities to capitalise on this success in west Suffolk?

“Naturally we support Ourburystedmunds in its move. However, as the recent success of our Hong Kong trade seminar and the launch of our Inward Investment Pack have shown, capitalising on that growth out of Cambridge is just one part of our strategy.”

St Edmundsbury Borough Council leader John Griffiths said the council looked forward to working with the BID on drawing more people in from the Cambridgeshire area.

“We are delighted about their initiatives and all the things we are doing together to attract people to the wonderful town of Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area.”

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