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Europe link may get tourism cash

PUBLISHED: 20:31 18 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:28 05 July 2010

AN AMBITIOUS bid to tap into a European pot of gold and bring a welcome ray of sunshine to tourism in Waveney is underway.

For Waveney and Suffolk County council chiefs are in talks to access funding worth almost £250m by forging links with coastal towns across Europe.

AN AMBITIOUS bid to tap into a European pot of gold and bring a welcome ray of sunshine to tourism in Waveney is underway.

For Waveney and Suffolk County council chiefs are in talks to access funding worth almost £250m by forging links with coastal towns across Europe.

And although the programme is in its infancy, Suffolk - and Lowestoft - could potentially be in a prime position to deliver exciting new projects to the region.

The Interreg IV Cross-Border programme will run for seven years from spring 2008 and will replace the old Objective 2 schemes - which pumped millions into Waveney as 18 projects were successfully run across the district.

Although the programme is in its infancy a cross-border bid is under scrutiny as links are forged with Norfolk and partner towns in France, Belgium and The Netherlands.

Much of the European funding that could be accessed to regenerate areas of the town will only be available through the establishment of cross border European partnerships over the next few years.

“The cross border programme provides the framework for maritime regions to co-operate on challenges requiring a focused and integrated approach,” a Waveney District Council spokesperson said. “Joint working initiatives could include coastal towns within Norfolk and Suffolk.”

Last year initial works to establish relationships with other European countries were carried out and a visit was made to Flanders in Begium by council staff to explore ideas.

“The areas of east and west Flanders were visited including Ghent, Bruge, Ostende, Zebrugge and Dendemonde,” the spokesperson said. “Visits to the local regeneration areas, towns and ports were supplemented by discussions and exploratory talks with local organisations. Some of the regeneration activities were very similar to those in this area and some approaches to coastal town development were very different.

Discussions are continuing on the subject of potential future working between the towns with reciprocal visits planned by Belgian officials later this year.

Coastal regeneration and the potential to revamp the seafront are likely to be under consideration for Lowestoft.

“There are two programmes - the England-France-Flanders-Netherlands (or North Programme) and the France (Manche)-England (or South Programme),” said Natalie Moll, the European and acting business support manager, strategic development, at Suffolk County Council.

“Each programme will be worth in the region of £120m - but it is difficult to say how much Suffolk might secure as it depends on the projects we develop/engage in.”

With each programme requiring an English partner and a partner across the North Sea/Channel as a minimum, the benefits of these schemes allow for a fairly broad scope of projects.

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