Bury St Edmunds: Town will be ‘jewel in the crown of Suffolk’ once again as new organisation hoped to attract private investment

The Abbey Ruins, a top visitor attraction in Bury

The Abbey Ruins, a top visitor attraction in Bury

Bury St Edmunds will be the “jewel in the crown” of Suffolk once again if a plan to attract private investment to boost tourism works, councillors have claimed.

It is hoped that through the formation of a new business alliance, projects such as infrastructure improvements and marketing the town on a global stage will bring benefits to both residents and visitors.

Projects could range from better cycling and walking to provision to bike hire schemes and improvements to the railway station area.

At an extraordinary meeting of the Bury Town Council (BTC) on Wednesday, members agreed to put £3,000 into a consultation process that will form the alliance, known as a Destination Management Organisation (DMO).

The DMO consultation will also be funded by £3,000 from OurBuryStEdmunds and £9,000 from St Edmundsbury Borough Council (SEBC).

Frank Warby, vice chair of BTC, said: “It is on our road signs, ‘jewel in the crown’, this can help us live up to it.”

The Moreton Hall representative on the SEBC continued: “We have great attractions, we have the abbey, we have the independent shops and national chains.

Most Read

“But it is about touching up certain areas, shop fronts have become a bit tatty if we are talking about working together, those things can be improved.

“Improving the town for tourists will also improve it for residents. It will attract more shops, hotels, restaurants.”

Mark Cordell, chief executive of OurBuryStEdmunds, said: “If we are going to be telling people we are brilliant, we have to live up to it.”

The 52-year-old continued: “We have several organisations working to help promote the town, but it is not joined up.

“With the DMO we can get many more people together, getting businesses to invest if they think it will benefit them. It is not exclusive to Bury businesses, if Bedford Lodge wanted to support the town, we wouldn’t stop them.

“If the consultation comes up with infrastructure improvements, they will be able to look at what we are being told, and decide whether to support it.

“It will let a bigger audience know what we have here, we are a great town with lots to offer. I am not saying we can’t improve, you can always find areas to improve.

“We are 45 minutes from Stansted, we have Felixstowe, Harwich all nearby, there is no reason why we shouldn’t target these opportunities.”

Cllr Alaric Pugh, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet member for Economic Development said: “I am thrilled that we are getting a DMO started in Bury St Edmunds.”

DMOs have already been a success in the county, last year Suffolk Coastal formed an alliance including internationally recognised brewer Adnams and have already planned to improve the provision of cycle hire and have become involved in international marketing campaigns.

A DMO scheme in County Durham has seen a 13 per cent increase in the tourism economy.