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Southwold: Region’s politicians examine harbour wall work

18:20 02 November 2012

MEP Geoffrey Van Orden (right) with NPS project manager Simon Will at the harbour wall site in Southwold

MEP Geoffrey Van Orden (right) with NPS project manager Simon Will at the harbour wall site in Southwold

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Regional leaders see harbour wall funding pay off

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LEADING political figures from the region have been checking out the finishing touches to renovation of a sea defence wall on the Suffolk coast.

MP Therese Coffey yesterday visited Southwold harbour where she joined MEP Vicky Ford for a look at progress on the £3.2million regeneration project to boost fishing facilities and carry out repairs to the North Dock Wall.

On Thursday, MEP Geoffrey Van Orden visited the site at the Blyth Estuary to meet contractors May Gurney and property consultants NPS to discuss the completion of improvements.

All three Conservatives played an influential part in campaigning for the work to be carried out and supporting a bid by Waveney District Council and the Southwold Harbour Lands Trust in 2010 for extra funding from the European Fisheries Fund (EU EFF), which provided more than a million pounds on top of the district council’s £2m allocation.

The work, which was due to be finished earlier in the year, but was delayed by a series of setbacks, will provide improved facilities for fishermen, including new moorings, a refrigeration area and ice-making machine, storage compounds, a 55kg capacity crane to lift boxes from boats to shore, electricity hook-ups, a diesel store, and the provision of a CCTV system.

Mrs Ford and Dr Coffey met harbour users, fishermen and local councillors before visiting Sizewell C information centre to talk with the communications manager about the forthcoming plant proposal consultation.

Mrs Ford, who earlier in the day visited the Port of Felixstowe to see the longer railway platform, also part-funded by EU money, said: “Our job as MEPs is to get as much of the EU budget as we can back into the East of England for good local projects like this. I have seen two excellent example of that in Felixstowe and Southwold.

“We realise the importance of supporting smaller boats and sustainable fishing. There is another fight to be fought in Europe to end fish discards which we will win for our fishermen.”

Dr Coffey added: “The last time I was with Vicky was two-and-a-half years ago, prior to getting the money from the EU and Waveney’s funding commitment, so it was excellent to see the harbour wall looking fantastic.

“There are now facilities in place to help our local fishermen. None of this would have happened without input from our MEPs.”

After meeting NPS project manager Simon Will, Mr Van Orden said: “I have always taken the view that EU funds are British taxpayers’ money recycled through Brussels.

“I see it as a duty to help ensure that we bid for funds that may be available and that they are used primarily on projects of long-term benefit to our local people and local economy.

“That’s what has happened at Southwold and I congratulate all those involved in this very successful project.”

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