MP points to failings in regeneration

GREAT Yarmouth MP Tony Wright has accused the borough council of “shrouding in secrecy” glaring failings in its �20m seafront regeneration scheme.He said that the resort's three big screens had been billed as a 21st-century solution to publicising events around town when they were bought at a cost of more than �900,000.

GREAT Yarmouth MP Tony Wright has accused the borough council of “shrouding in secrecy” glaring failings in its �20m seafront regeneration scheme.

He said that the resort's three big screens had been billed as a 21st-century solution to publicising events around town when they were bought at a cost of more than �900,000.

But now, six years on, even at the height of the summer season, the two screens on the seafront were scarcely being used, tucked away in their casings most of the time.

Meanwhile, there was still no news on the screen in the Market Place, which was carted off to manufacturer ADI after it broke down three years ago, leaving just an unsightly stump of metal.


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Mr Wright asked: “Is the Market Place screen ever coming back and, if not, is the council getting its money back? After such a large outlay, how can it be justified to use the seafront screens so infrequently?”

During an inspection walk, the MP also highlighted the fact that the lights on the Esplanade, which project coloured rays on to the beach, had not been working throughout the summer season, and the bulbs were not even in place. Meanwhile, the “ceiling of light” in Regent Road now looked tatty, with many of the strings of bulbs not working.

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He said the breakdowns raised concerns over the durability of some of the regeneration work, whether enough thought had gone into it and whether the council had budgeted sufficiently for repairs. It also appeared the failings had been “shrouded in secrecy”.

Borough tourism officer Alan Carr said they had taken the view this summer that the seafront screens worked best for special occasions, such as Soccer on the Sands, beach rugby and Wednesday night fireworks.

Meanwhile, the council's head of regeneration, Tim Howard, said: “Since the kit has been installed, everyone has been on a steep learning curve. One factor has been that the harsh climate on the east coast.”

Following the long-running dispute, ADI had now informed the council it had successfully repaired the Market Place screen. If council-appointed engineers were satisfied with the repairs, it would be brought back to Yarmouth and thought would then be given as to whether it was best to return it to the Market Place or some other location.

Regarding the ceiling of light, Mr Howard said the council had had repairs undertaken earlier this year, but they had not proved satisfactory. They were now in discussions with the original supplier over the quality of the kit.

He said the problem with the Esplanade lights was that bulbs had a fixed lifespan and had to be replaced before they blew. The stripping of the lights and replacement of the bulbs - costing �300 to �400 each - was being undertaken.

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