Council criticised on regeneration delay
By David LennardA LEADING councillor has been left “devastated” at the county council's reluctance to support a bid to dramatically improve business and employment prospects in Waveney.
By David Lennard
A LEADING councillor has been left “devastated” at the county council's reluctance to support a bid to dramatically improve business and employment prospects in Waveney.
Wendy Mawer, regeneration portfolio lead at Waveney District Council, said it was vital that a plan to create an urban regeneration company (URC) for Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth went ahead.
“This is a project that has already created a great deal of interest among businesses looking to move into the area,” she added.
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“It will give such a tremendous boost to young people in the area by creating jobs and I have been devastated by Suffolk County Council not giving the scheme its full backing.”
In September, East of England Development Agency appointed Hewden Consultants to meet with organisations in the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth area to establish a business case for creating the regeneration company.
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So far 14 regeneration companies have been established successfully in other parts of the country and it is hoped East Anglia will have its first in the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth area.
Business organisations in the area, along with Norfolk County, Waveney District and Great Yarmouth Borough Councils are supporting the bid.
But Suffolk County Council has decided to defer any decision on the matter until more consultations take place and other alternative ways of boosting the Waveney economy are looked at.
“We all have a duty to provide the best value for our Council Tax payers, but I am extremely disappointed that Suffolk County Council has delayed giving the URC bid its support,” said Mrs Mawer.
“I hope that this will prove just a hiccup and that in the New Year we all get behind the bid that is so vital to north Suffolk, not just now but in the future.”
Julian Swainson, a member of Suffolk County Council's executive, said it was not intended to hold up the URC bid.
“In the time that still exists before a bid has to be submitted we think that the four local authorities should get together to see if this scheme offers the best solution for Lowestoft's economy,” he added.
“We are talking about a lot of money and it is our responsibility to see that this is the best way forward before a commitment is made.”
East of England Development Agency has already drawn up a draft bid for the URC to be set up in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
It is expected to go to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Trade and Industry shortly.
If it wins approval from the Government, the URC would focus on engaging the private sector in helping to regenerate the area.
It would have a budget of £800,000 a year, with £250,000 coming from both East of England Development Agency and English Partnerships, and £300,000 from the four councils involved.