Christmas call to shoppers: Buy Ilford

ILFORD Town Centre is illuminated, Santa is setting up his grotto and some reindeer even made an appearance in Manford Way, Hainault.

But as you rush out to give your arms their annual present-carrying work-out, town centre manager Neil Davis has just one message: Think Ilford.

Loyalty from shoppers will give the town centre that all-important boost, he said.

And he hopes to have given people every reason to stay, rather than hitting shopping centres and high streets outside the area.

He said: “We’ve got such a broad range of shops and there’s a great ambience and atmosphere too.

“The lights are up and we’ve had comments about how good they look.

“It’s somewhere that if you want to come in the morning and park all day, and stop off for a coffee, you can do so.

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“You don’t have to spend hours trying to get out like you do at Lakeside.

“We’re a bit different from other town centres, which have all become a bit homogenised.”

The business boss said he expects the festive season to treat the town centre well this year.

He said: “I think there’s definitely some confidence in the air.

“We have had a good year all in all.”

The town centre kicked off its weekend celebrations with a performance from former X Factor star Steve Brookstein.

The winner of the TV talent show in 2004 wowed unsuspecting Christmas shoppers last week as he performed a selection of songs and signed autographs with his wife Eileen Hunter.

Diana Norton, town centre co-ordinator, said the day had set a precedent for the coming five weekends of entertainment, which town centre bosses chose instead of the traditional Christmas tree switch-on the town centre has seen for the past four years.

She said: “The Town Hall steps were the perfect place for Steve to perform. It created real ambience and a great atmosphere.

“We want people to know that Ilford is open for business and a great place to shop this Christmas.”

Lined up for Saturday, December 4 is a family day. Children and parents can take part in go-karting outside Waterstones, and meet Father Christmas, who will be giving out presents every half hour.