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Hopes high that town can win MMO bid

PUBLISHED: 10:49 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 21:59 05 July 2010

DELEGATES from Lowestoft have made their official pitch for a new government department to be located in the town - and believe they have a number of aces up their sleeve.

DELEGATES from Lowestoft have made their official pitch for a new government department to be located in the town - and believe they have a number of aces up their sleeve.

They met with environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies on Tuesday to put forward the case for the country's most easterly town to be the base for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

While the shortlist also includes other famous ports such as Liverpool, Plymouth and Southamp-ton, Waveney MP Bob Blizzard said two buildings in Lowestoft were a key to its potential success.

Ultimately, the idea is for 400 workers at the MMO to move into the planned Waveney Campus develop-ment by the banks of Lake Lothing.

However, Mr Blizzard said the government appeared keen to get the new department up and running next year, so it has been proposed it starts its life at the landmark Orbis Energy centre at Ness Point, which opened earlier this year.

“We have the absolutely ideal site in terms of the Campus… but the really strong point is that they are looking to get something off the ground next year and we can offer them accommodation at Orbis.

“We were well received by the minister and he said we had a really strong case. He recognised our ability to be able to deliver a building quickly and we are still on course for a decision to be made by the end of the year. We feel we put a good case forward and everybody thought it went well.”

Details of Lowestoft's bid to be the home of the MMO, which would bring up to 400 jobs to the town, first emerged in October.

It is believed more than 20 places first submitted bids to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) before Lowest-oft made it to a shortlist understood to total about half a dozen.

The idea behind the MMO is to create a centre of excellence under one roof and the fact the Lowestoft-based Cefas marine science laboratory is to move into the Waveney Campus has been used as a major selling point.

While many of the MMO's staff would initially come from outside the area, the opening of the new department would provide a shot in the arm to the local economy stretching along the coast to Yarmouth, according to Mr Blizzard.

“The reason the government is putting the MMO outside London is to help regenerate somewhere else and the case we have for that is strong. Lowestoft and Yarmouth are considered priority areas.”

The Waveney Campus building, which will also be used by council staff, was due to open in the autumn of 2010, but suffered delays when work was temporarily suspended earlier this year because of the local government review.

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