Four towns win community awards

FOUR towns are celebrating todayafter winning awards that recognise the success of projects aimed at creating vibrant communities.Harwich, Brightlingsea, Walton on the Naze and Halesworth all scooped prizes yesterdayat the East of England Best Market Town Project awards.

FOUR towns are celebrating todayafter winning awards that recognise the success of projects aimed at creating vibrant communities.

Harwich, Brightlingsea, Walton on the Naze and Halesworth all scooped prizes yesterdayat the East of England Best Market Town Project awards.

The Business award went to Warner's On-Line Café in Halesworth, which opened in November in the premises of Warner's Wine Bar to provide internet facilities for the town.

The judges heard that Halesworth had no broadband connection and the wine bar's premises had to be redesigned to accommodate the internet café.

It is open from 10am to 5.30pm and from 7pm to 11 pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and people are charged £1 per half an hour, with proceeds split between the Café Continuance Fund and the Halesworth Partnership Charitable Trust.

The Transport award went to Harwich Connexions Transport Co-operative, launched in March last year to provide public transport for vulnerable groups, particularly the elderly, who were unable to access services provided in the town and surrounding villages.

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It now has 153 members, four employees and 17 volunteer drivers, carried 16,500 passengers during its first year of operation.

The co-operative runs three 15-seat minibuses, one nine-seat minibus, one wheel-chair accessible car and one community box van. It also operates a minibus on behalf of social services and will operate an adult education centre minibus.

The Tourism award went to Walton Community Project for the Walton Vision Day, held on January 12, 2002, and attended by more than 300 residents.

It identified a need for events, festivals, community newsletters and better marketing of the resort to increase tourism to the town and rural areas and promote Walton-on-the-Naze.

Consequently, a town marketing strategy was developed, aimed at publicising the wide range of attractions locally.

The judges heard the project had raised the profile of Walton-on-the-Naze, giving it a firm identity and branding the town with a recognisable logo.

The Youth award went to Brightlingsea Community Reach, which worked with the council to spend £40,000 creating a purpose-built skate park for young people in the town and surrounding area.

There was extensive public consultation and young people from the town were involved in every step of the design and building of the park.

It has involved upgrading existing play equipment and facilities, providing an appropriate shelter with a teen multi-play area and working with schoolchildren to design and create a sculpture for a new “Millennium Garden”.

The awards were jointly organised by The Countryside Agency and East of England Development Agency, working with Action for Market Towns.

Countryside Agency senior countryside officer Cindy Winn said: “The awards recognise the work being done to develop market towns as service centres and the focus of economic, social and environmental regeneration in rural areas.

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