Poll: Ipswich traders up in arms over Tour Series cycle race “disaster” for business

Traders claim the barriers put off shoppers.

Traders claim the barriers put off shoppers. - Credit: Archant

Some businesses in the heart of Ipswich were left fuming over the “closure” of the town centre in the run-up to Friday’s cycle races.

Shops and cafes lost up to 50% of the business they had been expecting on one of the busiest days of the week. And market traders were left out of pocket because their stalls were unable to operate.

The Pearl Izumi Tour Series final did attract crowds of spectators – but businesses were critical of the decision to close major streets from lunchtime.

Meral Hassan is the owner of Central Canteen on Queen’s Street and said many of her regular customers had been unable to reach her.

“It was a disaster,” she said. “People could not cross the road to reach the cafe – one of my customers said it took him 30 minutes to get here from the other side of the road.

“Our takings were well down – this event did nothing for businesses like ours. Why did it have to close the town centre on the busiest day of the week?”

For The Perfume Shop in the Tower Ramparts centre it could not have happened at a worse time – just two days before Father’s Day.

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Manager Cathy Holloway said: “The numbers were well down – we only got about 50% of the customers we got on the same day last year.

“There was such a small space left on the pavements that it was impossible to get to any of the businesses.

“I’m not against events like this in Ipswich, but not in the town centre and not on the busiest days of the week.”

Ipswich market on the Cornhill was cancelled for the day – a move which provoked irritation among many of the stall holders.

Mick Cox, who runs one of the fruit and vegetable stalls, said: “I have five staff – they still have to be paid and it is not good to lose a day’s business like that.”

Other traders were also frustrated at losing business – and retailers believed that while extra people may have come into the town centre to see the racing, they did not visit the shops because the crowds made that impossible.

Many asked why the races had not been arranged for the Waterfront – from where the Tour of Britain started last year.

Businesses are planning to contact Ipswich Central to try to set up a meeting with the borough and county councils to try to avoid future problems caused by events like this.

However the county insisted the races were good for the town. A spokeswoman said: “All the studies and experiences of other towns across the country have shown that hosting important events such as the tour series brings a significant economic boost to the local area.

“This effect is not only a short term boost of the period immediately surrounding the event day, but also a longer term effect on the economy.

“If the experience for Ipswich businesses as a whole is proven not to reflect that national picture over a period of time, then we would want to look further into why Ipswich is an exception.”