Sudbury residents urged to make the most of their town

Gainsborough House survey by Sudbury Town Team. Pictured is Jane Hatton.

Gainsborough House survey by Sudbury Town Team. Pictured is Jane Hatton. - Credit: Gregg Brown

People living in a west Suffolk market town are being urged to “be grateful” and make the most of what it has to offer.

Gainsborough House survey by Sudbury Town Team. Pictured is Jane Hatton.

Gainsborough House survey by Sudbury Town Team. Pictured is Jane Hatton. - Credit: Gregg Brown

They are also being invited to make constructive suggestions for how it can be improved.

Sudbury has come under fire in recent months because of its ongoing traffic problems and regeneration plans that could see the loss of some of its most prominent historic buildings.

But Sudbury-based Gainsborough’s House is heading up an initiative that it is hoped will increase tourism, boost the local economy and encourage residents new and old to use the facilities that are already there.

In conjunction with Sudbury Town Team, the museum aims to quiz local people and visitors about what they feel the town lacks, as well as pinpointing its greatest attractions.

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Nearly 100 face-to-face surveys have already been completed by visitors to the weekly market and an online version will go live later this month.

Town centre manager, Jane Hatton, said: “Anecdotally, we hear a lot of moans but this survey has been devised so that we can feed back what people actually want from their town and what they feel is most important.

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“So far we have found that people who live in Sudbury itself tend to be more negative and are the ones who point out what Sudbury hasn’t got or has lost, such as the Marks and Spencers, shoe shops and several independent retailers.

“However, people from outside the town appear to recognise its strengths and think it’s great the way it is.

“These people compare Sudbury to other local towns and say they actually prefer it, for example, we have even had people from Colchester who come to Sudbury to do their shopping because parking is free. They recognise that we have a lot to be grateful for.”

Most of the organisations in Sudbury are run by local stalwarts and many would like to see new blood introduced to help perpetuate the good work and facilitate regeneration.

Lord Andrew Phillips, who was born in Sudbury, would particularly like newcomers to the town to be canvassed for their opinions.

He said: “Apart from the rapid gridlocking of town centre traffic, to which there are no easy or quick remedies I suspect, I persist in thinking that many who come to live on one or more of the many newish estates have very little to do with the town and its amazing range of activities and voluntary bodies. Too many, I’m pretty sure, are not even aware that we want their identification with the community, and their loyalty to it.

“Such a person-to-person survey would of itself send positive signals, provoke talk and comeback and, hopefully, lead on to greater involvement all round.”

Mark Bills, director of Gainsborough’s House, said preliminary results from the face-to-face surveys proved the importance of Sudbury and how it is valued by visitors. But he said the feedback also indicated that people would like to see the growth of the local economy.

He added: “From a Gainsborough’s House perspective is it hugely heartening that visitors think Gainsborough’s House is crucial to the development of tourism in the town.

“We are just on the cusp of a major development and it is crucial that these plans are part of the economic regeneration of this great town.”

The survey will finish at the end of March and participants will have a chance to win £25 vouchers donated by local businesses.

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