'No mention of Gorleston' in Yarmouth Town Deal plans

Picture: James Bass

Gorleston seafront. Labour borough councillor Brian Walker raised concern that none of the Town Deal projects are specifically based in Gorleston. - Credit: © JAMES BASS 2016

Plans to spend £20m on nine key projects across Great Yarmouth and Gorleston have been unanimously approved, despite one councillor's concern about the latter town being short changed. 

The projects, which range from heritage restorations to a new local base for the energy sector, are being funded using cash from the government's Town Deal programme. 

The largest single project will see the former Palmers/Beales store transformed into a shared library and learning hub for students at the University of Suffolk, and potentially the University of East Anglia, as well as benefitting adult learners hoping to gain new skills. 

Summaries of each project, setting out how the money will be used, were considered at a Tuesday (March 22) meeting of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's (GYBC) policy and resources committee.

At the meeting, Labour councillor Brian Walker said: "The title of the thing - it's called the 'Great Yarmouth & Gorleston-on-Sea [Town Investment Plan]'...

Great Yarmouth Borough Council elections 2015.
Local ward votes being counted for the Great Yarmout

Labour councillor Brian Walker - Credit: James Bass

"I've been through this loads of times and I can't see a mention of Gorleston. 

"If Gorleston isn't in there, why don't we just put our hands up and say 'Gorleston is getting nothing, this is a Great Yarmouth plan'?”

GYBC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby countered that there were some projects that would benefit both towns, namely the improvements to public wayfinding signage and the towns’ digital infrastructure.

Sheila Oxtoby

GYBC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby - Credit: Archant

She said that when the Town Deal was first awarded, it was limited to Yarmouth itself, and was only expanded to include Gorleston at a later stage. 

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She added that because Yarmouth had several places identified as strategically important for the borough’s economy, it was “inevitable” that a “significant amount” of the funding would remain within the town itself. 

The council's Conservative deputy leader, Graham Plant, praised the speed with which the council had put its summaries together, in time for the government’s Thursday (March 24) deadline. 

Graham Plant, Councillor, at the grand reopening of the Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Y

GYBC's Conservative deputy leader Graham Plant - Credit: Archant

“I know that across the county, we’re probably the only one that’s actually done it,” said Mr Plant.

“Again, it’s one of those things where Great Yarmouth is shining bright, across the county.

“These business cases are not easy to put together.”

Town Deal funding has also been awarded in Norwich and King’s Lynn. In Suffolk, funds have been awarded in Ipswich and Lowestoft.