Traders fears in run up to Christmas

WORRIED traders feeling the pinch after the opening of a controversial park and ride have appealed to shoppers to support them in the lucrative Christmas period.

WORRIED traders feeling the pinch after the opening of a controversial park and ride have appealed to shoppers to support them in the lucrative Christmas period.

Retailers in Woodbridge have claimed that one of their worst fears with the launch of the Martlesham park-and-ride scheme has been realised as potential shoppers bypass the town and head into Ipswich to buy their presents.

The new service is expected to attract 103,700 cars in 12 months after last month's opening. It only costs £3.20 return for a car with up to five passengers, almost equivalent to a return fare for one passenger from Woodbridge.

The service has been advertised as far north as Beccles and shopkeepers in Woodbridge said they were unhappy that their trade was suffering while the county council promoted the multi-million pound new service.

They are also disappointed that Suffolk Coastal District Council is revising car parking charges in the town and is considering turning The Avenue free car park into a pay-and-display operation.

But Woodbridge has launched a pro-active marketing campaign with 10,000 fliers promoting events, an extra 50 Christmas trees in the town and the return of the Christmas Street Fayre on December 7.

Most Read

Pat O'Hagan, a newsagent in the Thoroughfare, said: "The last few weeks have been bad. I reckon it is down to park and ride and I know we are all the same.

"Changing the car parking charges will also put people off if you have to spend more to park your car. The town is 100% better than Ipswich but they need to halve the car parking charges to get people back in."

Richard Green, of Woodbridge Books, said: "It does seem a bit quiet at the moment. We had a very good September and October, but November seems to have been a little quiet."

Peter Sheldrake, a toy retailer, said: "I have spoken to other people in the toy trade and it is a slow start to the Christmas period. But I think Woodbridge will have a good Christmas – the new town centre manager is making a difference and we have 50 extra trees this year.

"People do try and shop in Woodbridge if they can and I find people very loyal if you have what they want."

Peter Phillips, of the Leather and Sheepskin shop, said the recent spell of very wet weather had driven people into shopping arcades rather than coming to Woodbridge.

"I am confident people will come to Woodbridge for that individual gift and to shop locally," he added.

The chamber of commerce has arranged free car parking on Saturdays and on December 7 at the district council offices, Melton Hill. Part of the Budgen car park, affected by construction of a storm sewage tank, has reopened to motorists.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter