Don’t tell the public Ipswich is closed for business

Closing Ipswich’s Tourist Information Centre would send the message that the town is “closed for business,” UNISON warns today.

Ipswich Borough Council’s executive will consider a report tomorrow, giving the chief operating officer permission to close the centre, and lay off six workers, after a consultation.

The Council is facing a £10m deficit because of coronavirus, but the closure would only save £160,000 a year.

Any savings would be wiped out by the damage it the closure would do to tourism and small businesses in the area, warns UNISON.

The union is urging Ipswich Borough Council’s executive to delay its decision until after the consultation — and use the consultation to properly look at the value the Tourist Information Centre brings to the town and seek wider funding for the service.

Across the country, councils face an estimated £10bn shortfall for 2020/21, which would mean a 21% reduction in spending compared to 2019/20.

UNISON says a reduction of that magnitude could lead to the loss of 51,000 children’s social workers, 141,000 adult care workers, and almost 46,000 refuse collectors.

The union is calling on ministers to find  additional resources for councils to avoid devastating harm to services that have already suffered ten years of budget cuts.

UNISON Ipswich branch secretary David Rowe said: “Councils across the UK are facing unprecedented financial shortages and it’s up to ministers to plug the gap so our communities don’t face ruin.

“But at a time when we’ll all need to work hard together to recover from this crisis, it’s completely wrong for the Council to tell the world that Ipswich is closed for business.

“Healthy hight streets and public services will be vital to recovery across the whole of Suffolk. Far from turning our back on visitors, we should be strengthening our Tourist Information team to showcase what Ipswich and Suffolk have to offer.”