Gallery: Town returns to normal after bomb scare

IPSWICH businesses are now getting back to normal after today's bomb scare saw the town centre evacuated for more than two hours.

Naomi Cassidy

IPSWICH businesses are now getting back to normal after today's bomb scare saw the town centre evacuated for more than two hours.

The centre was thrown into complete chaos earlier todayafter a suspect package was found in Debenhams in Westgate Street at about 10am.

Several roads and shops in the centre were closed for security reasons while police awaited the arrival of the bomb disposal unit.

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Crown Street was shut from High Street to Crown House along with Tower Ramparts. All the businesses along Westgate Street to the Cornhill were also evacuated as the area was cordoned off. Police advised taxis and local bus firms about the situation so they were able to redirect any routes affected. Firefighters and an ambulance crew were also on standby.

Hundreds of people were forced to suspend their shopping plans and wait behind police tape as the bomb disposal robot carried out a controlled explosion on the suspect package at about 11am. A bus driver claimed Tower Ramparts bus station was chaotic with buses parked up and waiting.

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The area remained cordoned off until 12.30pm. In the end it was believed the suspect package was actually a bag of clothes.

Paul Clement of Ipswich Central said: “I speak on behalf of all businesses in the town centre when I say that public safety comes first. If there is a concern over public safety, retail trading takes a back seat.”

Stuart Kemp, who works at The Hot Sausage Company, said: “It was a fair bit of disruption and I think most people were just annoyed that they could not get through. I should have been getting ready for the lunchtime rush. It will mean that I take a considerable loss I think.”

Clare Ely, an employee at The Card Factory in Westgate Street, said: “We got radioed and told we had to evacuate because there is a bomb scare. Lunchtime is our busiest time so it will reduce the amount of money that we get today. I suspect it is the right thing to do because if it was a real bomb and it did go off then we would be in trouble.”

The drama was the second bomb scare drama in Ipswich this month. On April 1 rush hour traffic plunged into chaos when a suspect package was found outside South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court. Police set up their Gold Command system to deal with the alert, which was treated seriously, and traffic was gridlocked while police dealt with the incident.

Martin Lambourne, 52, of no fixed abode, was charged with causing the bomb hoax on April 1 and is due to face magistrates for his next hearing on Friday.

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