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Critics will not halt Cattle Market plan

PUBLISHED: 06:26 12 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

THE "self-appointed great and good" of a Suffolk town will not halt one of the county's largest redevelopment schemes, a council leader has promised.

Speaking yesterday , Ray Nowak, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, attacked a group of 32 Bury St Edmunds residents who have criticised plans for the town centre Cattle Market redevelopment scheme in an open letter to councillors.

THE "self-appointed great and good" of a Suffolk town will not halt one of the county's largest redevelopment schemes, a council leader has promised.

Speaking yesterday , Ray Nowak, leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, attacked a group of 32 Bury St Edmunds residents who have criticised plans for the town centre Cattle Market redevelopment scheme in an open letter to councillors.

The letter, which slams proposals for a public building and car parking, says the council has "totally mistaken priorities".

In the 14-page document, the group label the extensive public consultation, which resulted in the Cattle Market masterplan, as flawed, claiming the views of only a small group were considered when plans were originally made.

"The unwarranted claim is being made that the council's proposals have the full support of the people of St Edmundsbury. Any alternative views appear to be stigmatised as antagonistic and given no hearing," read the letter.

"The derelict Cattle Market does provide a magnificent opportunity for Bury St Edmunds and its people, but the stakes are high and the risks great. If the project goes wrong, the heart of our beautiful and unique town with its happy blend of domestic and commercial buildings could be destroyed.

"In general, we have to say that the council has been less than straight with the people of St Edmundsbury. In our opinions, a new approach to the whole project is urgently required. We have no faith in the council's present proposals, which we believe put at risk our cultural and financial heritage."

Mr Nowak angrily hit back, saying: "This is basically the so-called self-appointed great and good of the area feeling they have not had control of this scheme. These people stopped the cinema coming to Bury St Edmunds, and they are not going to do the same with the Cattle Market.

"The challenge to them is either to come and work with the borough council as a critical friend and try and refine the scheme, or stand against every one of the candidates in the town this coming May in the local elections.

"We have spent nearly three years consulting the public, but they are prepared to dismiss this.

"We have been so careful to find out what the public want. This scheme is about investing in our own economy and believing in our own town. This group obviously want people to go out of town and spent their money elsewhere."

The scheme, which will see a public building, retail and residential development constructed on the town's derelict Cattle Market site, has so far won approval of all political parties on St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

"The authors of this letter apparently believe that their voices should carry more weight than those of the rest of the population of the Borough put together," said Andrew Varley, spokesman for the Conservative group. "They resent that they have not been accorded the status they believe they deserve.

"It is totally false to claim that the numbers involved in the consultation were very small. The fact is that a huge cross-section was consulted and proved overwhelmingly in favour of the sort of scheme which these people want to stop.

"The question is quite simple. Do we want Bury to be a museum or do we want it to be a vibrant, developing town, proud of its heritage and of its future? The people have chosen the latter: a small interest group wants the first."


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