May 23 2013 Latest news:
Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
PEN was put to paper on an ambitious plan to regenerate Wisbech this morning as council chiefs toasted a “renewed belief” in the town.
Councillor Nick Clarke, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, and Councillor Alan Melton, Leader of Fenland District Council, were the first to sign the Wisbech 2020 Vision - a bid to develop the town’s transport, tourism, economy and reputation.
The vision, outlined in a 22-page document, is the result of months of public consultation in Wisbech and hard work from three tiers of Government - the county council, district council and NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay.
Speaking at today’s launch event, held at The Boathouse Business Centre, Cllr Clarke said he was amazed at how many people had “got behind” the vision.
“We have seen a massive increase in positivity in a number of different areas,” he said.
"If we don’t have a dream or ambition for Wisbech then our youngsters will be standing here in 10 or 20 years time and nothing will have happened."
“People know they have the chance to make a difference and they are talking in a different way about their town.
“There is a renewed belief in Wisbech and so there should be. It is a great town and it can be even better.”
Cllr Clarke pointed to early successes in the regeneration project, including a new £7.2million technology centre at the College of West Anglia’s Isle Campus.
He highlighted a joint project with Delamore Young Plants to build a horticultural skills centre, Cambridge University’s study into the future economic role of Wisbech and work with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) as positive steps.
Cllr Clarke also hailed improvement work to the roads around The Boathouse - an area he had previously described as “like driving through Beirut”.
He said: “We are currently exploring where a new primary school should be placed in Wisbech and I have asked for this very site to be considered as one of the options.
“I’m told that it is viable and realistic and it is certainly one of the options being considered.”
Cllr Melton highlighted a new tourism initiative and said councillors were also investigating the possibility of a “business improvement district”.
He promised to work with other authorities to speed up the process of dealing with derelict buildings and vowed that development on the Nene waterfront would be under way within two years.
He said: “We understand that there is no easy answer during these economic times but we will not stop asking the question and we will not stop banging on doors and lobbying.”
The Wisbech 2020 Vision is now a “public document” and councillors encouraged the people to hold them to account over their promises.
Cllr Melton added that he had been asked whether the vision was an “impossible dream”.
“You have to have dreams and you have to have ambitions,” he said.
“If we don’t have a dream or ambition for Wisbech then our youngsters will be standing here in 10 or 20 years time and nothing will have happened.”
Mr Barclay was unable to attend the launch as he is today celebrating the birth of his second child, a boy which weighed 8lb 3oz.