Great Yarmouth businesses attend Leader's Reception to celebrate economic achievements
BUSINESSES in Great Yarmouth attended a special celebration of the key economic achievements in the borough during 2019, an event which was hosted by the council leader at the Town Hall yesterday (Tuesday, December 17).
The annual Leader's Reception, staged by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, saw about 100 guests from local businesses and other partners review the last 12 months, and look forward to further exciting growth, investment and developments in 2020.
Cllr Carl Smith gave a speech and presentation on the highlights, which was followed by a presentation by guest speaker Sonja Chirico Indrebø, Equinor's Power Plant Manager for the Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm, which is serviced from the company's UK Wind Energy Centre at Great Yarmouth.
Cllr Smith said: "We are moving our borough forward and making it more attractive for further investment, a true destination for growth, with the council taking a leading role. The council is investing proactively in the economy, developing responsive projects and working at a place-based level with partners, including New Anglia LEP, Norfolk County Council and Peel Ports, creating and capturing exciting opportunities to maximise growth, while tackling the challenges that many coastal communities face.
"This year, Great Yarmouth was named as one of just five 'Future Places' in England as part of a new programme aiming to showcase and support councils with ambitious visions for shaping their areas' futures. The council has also been shortlisted for the second year running as a finalist for a national award recognising its work to drive economic growth."
In his speech, Cllr Smith remarked on Great Yarmouth's reputation as an offshore wind hub, at the forefront of £39bn of potential energy investment over the next 20 years. This year, the Outer Harbour has hosted the assembly and installation of the £2.5bn East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm, developed by ScottishPower Renewables.
Cllr Smith highlighted the council's work with partners to support further opportunities across the sector, including progressing the Great Yarmouth Energy Park, at South Denes, securing significant funding to market the area for offshore wind investment, and forging maritime trade links between Great Yarmouth and the Continent.
He welcomed the infrastructure investments happening in Great Yarmouth, which are so critical to supporting the council's ambitious regeneration plans, including the £120m Third River Crossing and the £40m second phase of a critical project to refurbish the River Yare tidal defences.
He looked forward to the potential of significant national funding, through the Future High Streets Fund and Town Deals, offering an exciting opportunity to accelerate delivery of the Town Centre Masterplan with a vision to revitalise the town centre focussed around re-introducing more residential uses, making better use of historic buildings and improving linkages with the seafront.
Linked to this, Cllr Smith explained how the council is intervening proactively in the housing market, working to drive up standards of private rented housing in urban Yarmouth under a Selective Licensing scheme, and allocating £2m to acquire properties, acting as a socially responsible private sector landlord.
In the local visitor economy, now worth £625m annually, Cllr Smith looked forward to redevelopment work starting this winter on the new Marina Centre, a once-in-a-generation £26m investment which will be a major year-round boost to the visitor economy whilst supporting community health and well-being across the borough.
He also praised the council's £2.7m restoration of the historic Venetian Waterways, which re-opened to national acclaim this summer, as well as the success of the Wheels Festival, Out There Festival, Christmas Fayre and Maritime Festival, all events helping to attract visitors and raise the borough's cultural profile.
Cllr Smith also welcomed activity and investment in the private sector, including renewal of the Tourism BID, the new Premier Inn and Beefeater Restaurant, investment in holiday parks, the cinema revamp, further cruise ship visits, and the new Danny Boyle film which stars Gorleston seafront.