Ipswich/Sudbury: Council defends Vikings Homecoming parade after supporters criticise organisation

IPSWICH Borough Council has promised an investigation after its organisation of a military parade was criticised as a ‘shambles’.

On Monday, people from across the county lined the streets of Ipswich to support the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment - The Vikings - as they marched through the town. But some spectators say their day was ‘ruined’ as organisers failed to keep crowds properly cordoned off.

According to Nigel Lillywhite, an 83-year-old army veteran from Ipswich, the problem occurred on the Cornhill.

He said: “ I arrived early and found a perfect position behind the crowd barriers to take a video of the parade but in the time we were waiting a large number of latecomers arrived and stood in front of the barriers.

“I asked a very nice woman police sergeant whether they would be moved and she told me the police were not empowered to move people behind the barriers and that responsibility lay with Ipswich Borough Council. She tried to make contact with the responsible person but could not.

“By the time the parade started, those in front of the barriers were not moved and those behind saw nothing.”

Mr Lillywhite’s account has been echoed by several members of the Sudbury and District branch of Royal British Legion, who were standing in the same area.

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Shirley Williams said: “ It was poorly organised and there was nobody to point the latecomers to the right place.

“There was a gentleman with a wheelchair there who had his view completely blocked and it didn’t seem as if the police could help.

“I feel strongly we should support our local regiment and it was great to see so many people out in Ipswich to support our lads. It’s just a shame the organisers didn’t take the numbers into account.”

Welfare representative for the branch, Jane Brockbank, added: “It was a shambles. A lot of people had travelled to the event and would have seen very little.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “The homecoming parade was a fantastic and proud occasion. We were pleased so many people came out to cheer on our troops and show that we all appreciate their courage and resilience. We are, though, sorry that some people did not enjoy the event and we are investigating their complaints.”