Ipswich: Business owner forced to move part of business away after roadworks hampered takings

A FRUSTRATED trader says he has been forced to move part of his business to London because of the devastating effect months of roadworks have had on his takings.

Tim Smith, who owns Absolution in Upper Orwell Street, now operates from a stall at Camden Market in London twice a week after continuous road closures saw his trade fall by up to 70per cent.

Mr Smith opened his alternative clothing shop eight years ago, despite suffering from spinal stenosis.

Today, he told of his anger after two years “of what seems like continuous road closures”.

“The road has been closed more than it has been opened it seems,” the 48-year-old said.

“It was closed for more than six weeks when the church across the road burnt down.

“It was closed for road works at the top of the road and it has been closed for months with the National Grid work.

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“It has been a struggle for the businesses here. Many of the shops in this road are derelict and if this area doesn’t get the support it needs, then more will have to close.

“There are only three shops down here now, the rest are derelict. The council needs to be encouraging people to come to this part of town.”

Mr Smith said he believed Upper Orwell Street had been completely forgotten about during the latest string of road works, with MP Ben Gummer and council representatives failing to pay his a visit.

He said he had been left with no choice but to take on a stall at Camden Market on Sundays and Mondays.

“I refused to give up and it was because of that I now set up twice a week in Camden. We have to earn some money somehow.

“We are a very niche market. We are one of a kind in the county and people come to Ipswich to shop here, but if they can’t reach us because of the roadworks then they won’t come.”

Mr Gummer said: “Upper Orwell Street has been struggling for a very long time and has been let down by a series of broken promises of redevelopment.

“I hope that my discussion with some of the land owners in the area might be able to offer some sort of improvement in the next few years.

“In the short term I would urge the council to do what they can to help those remaining retail businesses in the street.”

National Grid’s work to replace the old gas mains begin in April and only finished at the beginning of the month. The junction between Fore Street, Orwell Place, Upper Orwell Street and Eagle Street then remained closed until Friday while county council workers tidied up the paving.

On Friday, a meeting between businesses and Ipswich Central took place to discuss the future of the area.