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Lowestoft moves closer to jobs bonanza

PUBLISHED: 11:40 10 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:45 05 July 2010

A BID to spark a jobs and investment bonanza in Lowestoft has taken a major step forward after the town was shortlisted to host a new government department.

A BID to spark a jobs and investment bonanza in Lowestoft has taken a major step forward after the town was shortlisted to host a new government department.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) will take up to 400 jobs to its chosen location, providing a shot in the arm to the local economy.

Lowestoft was among more than 20 locations around the country to put forward a bid and has now made it to the final stage of the competition.

It is understood there are about five towns and cities, believed to include Liverpool, Southampton and Plymouth, in the running to land the new department.

Lowestoft's bid, led by Waveney MP Bob Blizzard and district council chief executive Stephen Baker, has proposed basing the MMO at the Waveney Campus development by the banks of Lake Lothing.

Mr Blizzard said the fact the Campus project was now back on track and would be the new home for the Lowestoft-based Cefas marine science laboratory gave the town an edge.

He added: “It's fantastic news. I am delighted that Lowestoft has made it to the shortlist, but now the tough competition begins. We will keep our fingers crossed and work very hard to convince the decision-makers.

“Clearly Cefas and the MMO are going to need to work together and it wouldn't make a lot of sense to put them hundreds of miles apart.”

Mr Blizzard received news of Lowestoft's progression to the shortlist from environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies, who is expected to announce the successful bidder by the end of the year.

Lowestoft is pushing hard to emerge from years of economic decline and only last week it was touted as the capital of the renewable energy industry with the opening of the Orbis Energy centre at Ness Point.

The town's rundown waterfront sites are also set for major redevelopment as part of the 1st East urban regeneration scheme and Mr Blizzard said the arrival of the MMO would provide another boost to the economy. While many of the staff would come from out of the area, he insisted it had the potential to be a significant local employer in the future.

“If we get the MMO it would really turn Lowestoft's economy around because it would mean high quality scientific and management jobs for young graduates from this area,” added Mr Blizzard.

“There would also be civil servants moving into the area, bringing spending power with them. It would add up to a massive boost for the economy.”

The government wants to bring a new centre of marine expertise under one roof as part of the Marine Bill going through Parliament.

Waveney Campus will have room for about 1,000 workers and is also planned to house staff from Waveney District and Suffolk County councils. It was due to open in the autumn of 2010, although it has suffered delays after work on the project was temporarily suspended during the local government review.

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