Survey reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly of Lowestoft
PUBLISHED: 13:25 19 October 2018
Archant © 2018
Beaches, parks, and the most easterly point in the UK are the most popular parts of Lowestoft, according to a survey undertaken by Lowestoft Town Council.
However, traffic flow, lack of employment opportunities and the town’s crime rate are the most common picks for negative aspects of the town.
The survey, carried out by the council to help develop the neighbourhood plan for the town, highlighted what residents in the town believe need improving and what makes Lowestoft special.
The council also set out their plans to improve the town where possible within their remit.
The statistics paint a picture of a town requiring infrastructure investment, better job opportunities, and more effective policing, but also one which values its history, its geography, and its open spaces.
They also show people want to see the town make more use of the seafront, improve the littering and fly-tipping issues, and create better employment opportunities.
When asked “What is bad about Lowestoft?”, traffic flow was the most popular choice, with 92.46pc of the 345 respondents picking it out as bad, making it the worst thing about the town. Only two people said traffic flow was a positive about the town.
More than 70pc chose employment opportunities, while 56.81pc said crime rate was another negative aspect of Lowestoft.
Around 75pc said the use of the waterfront, employment opportunities, and litter, fly-tipping and waste disposal could be better.
However, it is not all doom and gloom, with 93.29pc of respondents highlighting Lowestoft’s beaches when asked what makes the town good.
Parks and open spaces with 73.47pc, being the most easterly point with 65.60pc, and the town’s heritage, with 54.52pc, were all also highlighted by respondents.
Residents echoed the findings, with many stating traffic and high business rates were affecting the centre of town and it’s potential.
Jen Jones said: “Better road infrastructure that doesn’t break down during roadworks, reduced business rates and rents to enable small businesses to open up.”
Jo Pawlett added: “Love the beach and the Broads, hate the traffic and how the town gets completely gridlocked.
“A ten minute journy across the bridge can take an hour, plus more houses are being built and there is still a lack of spaces in good primary schools.”
Nic Maddocks said: “Moved here three months ago and we love it. The beaches are beautiful and I personally love the quirkiness of Kirkley. People are friendly too.
“However, I think many people are aware of the tired looking town centre. I read many people’s issues and ideas for the town but it feels as though the people who matter, the residents, aren’t listened to.
“Maybe until there are definite decisions about the town the local council could clean and cover the shops with murals or artwork and really listen to what people want.”
Rosalyn McCartney added: “I don’t think a lot can be done for the town centre - I rarely go now as it is lacking in any variety for a lot of things and it is easier to go online or to travel somewhere where paying a parking charge is worth the cost, like Norwich.
“There are some lovely parks and the beach has such potential but that area is quite neglected.”
A spokesman for Lowestoft Town Council said: “The big pluses were the beaches, heritage, the most-easterly point, the parks and public transport.
“We will make the most we can of those areas within our control and will influence others to do likewise. We will promote Lowestoft to visitors and others.
“We were pleased to see how positive people were about a range of Lowestoft assets and we will contribute where we can to increasing the pride in Lowestoft. We will consider these views as part of the development of our neighbourhood plan.
They added: “The big negatives were the crime rate, lack of employment opportunities, the shops and traffic flow.
“Where we reasonably can, we will help reduce these problems, including through working with others who are well-positioned to make a direct difference.”
Lowestoft is still ‘safe’, say police
Suffolk Police say Lowestoft is a safe town to live in, despite resident’s concerns around crime rates.
Inspector Liz Casey said: “It is important to remember that crime statistics don’t give the full picture of a local policing service and overall Lowestoft remains a safe town to live and work.
“Our officers and staff work hard to keep the public safe and we prioritise giving a high level of service to those who become victims of crime.
“We monitor our statistics and performance through regular meetings locally, and we constantly review all crime being reported to us to ensure we deploy our resources effectively, based on the threat, harm and risk posed.
“We will continue to pursue, disrupt and arrest those people bringing criminality or anti-social behaviour, as well as constantly gathering intelligence that members of the public provide and for which we are grateful for.
“Just as important is the help and support from our partners including the council who we will continue to work closely with to ensure the town overall remains a safe place.”
Promoting the town helps business
With business rates set by central government, councils have limited powers to aid struggling businesses, and towns rely on business improvement districts (BID) to help support businesses.
Dan Poitras, chair of Lowestoft Vision - the town’s BID - said the group’s work promoting Lowestoft and putting on events would help bring in new business as well as supporting existing business.
He said: “We promote Lowestoft as a town and a destination, and we put on events to try and entice people and create a footfall for the town.
“We put on events such as the one going on this weekend called the Spooky Trail where we give kids the opportunity to get sweets from shops with the parents and the kids potentially buying their products.
He added: “We also publicise Lowestoft. We have people who can sway businesses into the town and networking through the chamber of commerce and introducing those businesses that may want to come into the town, especially with the renewable energy that is coming into the town.”