Future of Sudbury town centre development manager role in doubt

Sudbury town centre

Sudbury town centre - Credit: Archant

The role of the town centre development manager in Sudbury is to be reconsidered.

The position which was created in 2013 was funded by £60,000 of ‘106’ money from Sainsbury’s, paid as part of a planning agreement at the time to offset any potential damage the Cornard Road store could cause to the town centre economy when it opened that year.

The current town centre manager, Jane Hatton, is self-employed and her wages are controlled by the town council. She is answerable to Sudbury Town Team, which has an input into which activities she undertakes.

Mrs Hatton has recently helped launch the www.seeanddosudbury.co.uk website – designed to attract visitors back to the town following the recent devastating fire. She has also helped to develop the highly successful Sudbury Food and Drink Festival.

However, the role was part of a three-year plan that is due to come to an end this year.

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As the last £16,000 of Sainsbury’s funding has now been allocated and the money will soon run out, Sudbury mayor Jack Owen said at a recent town council meeting that discussions were needed about the benefits of a town centre manager and the future of the role.

After the meeting, Mr Owen told the EADT: “The main event that she is involved with is the food and drink festival and she does several other things to promote the town such as being involved with getting the new website up and running.

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“However, many of the main events that draw people into Sudbury, such as the Christmas lights switch-on, Party in the Park, the French market and the carnival are organised either by the town council or by external committees or groups.

“We really need to be proactive in bringing people into the town, especially at weekends. As a result, several councillors would like to see the town council having its own events manager, especially as we have staged a number of successful events ourselves in recent months.

“The money allocated to a town centre manager has been spent a lot quicker than anticipated and, once it has gone, then we have to question whether it is worth contributing to that position going forward.”

During the meeting one of the councillors, Ellen Murphy, requested that Mrs Hatton should attend a forthcoming council meeting to talk about what she does. She said: “I have been a councillor since May and I don’t even know what this woman looks like. It would be good if she could be invited to the next meeting.”

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