New £300,000 regeneration project aims to boost Felixstowe’s economy
- Credit: Archant
Fresh impetus is to be given to regenerating Felixstowe with a new £100,000 a year project to boost the resort’s economy.
The three-year scheme – supported by district, town and county councils – will replace Felixstowe Futures, which was criticised for under-achievement, secrecy and a lack of momentum.
Changes will be made to ensure in future that the new group’s work is much more public and that it works more closely with the town council and other organisations at the resort.
The team will continue to be based at the Town Hall and the lead officer will attend town council meetings.
Felixstowe Futures acted as an “honest broker” to try to get bodies involved in projects to work together, to manage tourism projects, and to seek funding for various schemes.
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It helped co-ordinate the controversial Hamilton Road shared space scheme, worked with the council and agencies to assist the pier redevelopment, and set up the Visit Felixstowe website.
Town councillor Mike Deacon said: “To say I was seriously underwhelmed at the performance of Felixstowe Futures over the last few years would be an understatement.
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“We didn’t know most of the time what was happening and I still cannot tell you much about what they did in the last three years.
“I think the new project is a reasonable way forward but it needs to be a really transparent operation so people of this town can see what is happening.”
Councillor Andy Smith said the new organisation would be very different with new objectives, dealing with the wider Felixstowe economy and community.
He said: “One of the objectives is to have a much wider involvement with commerce in the town generally but also beyond that to link with community groups.”
Deputy mayor Doreen Savage said: “It’s very important that we keep the focus on Felixstowe. I think the suggested new way forward will make it absolutely essential that we keep the town’s economy at the forefront of our thinking.”
Councillor Stuart Bird said Felixstowe Futures’ performance had been “lamentable and lacking any momentum” and he wanted to see a considerable return on £100,000 a year of taxpayers’ money.
He said: “It has got to be more than a new logo and a new strapline – it needs to be robust, with proper objectives, planning and more accountability and more engagement with the public – and needs to produce a lot more value for money than its predecessor.”
A report to Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet said: “It is fair to say that public recognition of Felixstowe Futures was not particularly high.
“The common perception was that at best the public misunderstood its role and at worst were not aware of its existence.
“In order to address this it is critical that the new initiative is more embedded within the town’s influencing networks and is generally a more outward facing organisation.
“This in turn will foster a greater degree of local agreement on priorities and when combined with a stronger relationship with Suffolk Coastal/Suffolk County Council service teams and Felixstowe Town Council will lead to more joined up delivery against these locally agreed objectives.”