Ipswich is crying out for action now to help it thrive in the years to come.
That’s the message from businessman Peter Gwizdala, who owns Arlingtons in Museum Street, and says we need to shout about Ipswich and get it moving in a positive direction.
He said: “How about reducing business rates, pedestrianising more of our wonderful town, encouraging independent retailers and improving something as simple as signposting?
“How about shouting out about the positives of this town – its beautiful buildings, its entrepreneurs, its trading history, its university and its independent businesses? The areas behind the town centre such as the triangle between Aqua Eight, Arcade Tavern and Arlingtons, as well as the Waterfront.
“Let’s be proactive and actually get it moving in a positive direction.”
His comments come after Labour-led Ipswich Borough Council launched a £9,000 leisure and retail study with the findings due to be published over the summer.
It proposes to look at the challenges facing town centre firms and threats from out-of-town retail parks and online shopping.
However, the Conservative group has proposed creating a multi-use arena in Portman Road to bring people into Ipswich.
Mr Gwizdala said: “There is clear evidence that local politicians are taking a leaf out of their national masters’ book by being completely out of touch.
“They state that what is needed is joined-up thinking.
“I would argue that just some plain thinking would be a good start. Anyone who has been to Ipswich for more than 20 nanoseconds will tell you that it is a ‘Tale of Two Cities’, namely the Waterfront which gets most of the council and Ipswich Central’s attention and, most recently, the Cornhill in the town centre.”
He added: “I have no issue with Portman Road being better utilised but if anyone thinks that this is going to regenerate the town centre, they will be very much mistaken.
“People will drive in and use the many car parks which service the ground and use the catering facilities at the ground. They will then get in their cars and drive away. If they do come in by public transport, they may even use the one pub which they would walk past to get to Portman Road, but that’s it.
“To think that the town centre will be ‘saved’ as a result is a fallacy.”
Mr Gwizdala believes Ipswich needs plans to unite the town centre and waterfront.
“To do that and benefit both areas, we need to engage with the residents of Ipswich in those plans from the start,” he added. “It is clear that we could save a heck of a lot of taxpayers money by listening to those at the coalface.”