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New opportunities for growth

PUBLISHED: 14:41 26 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:08 05 July 2010

The economy of the Waveney district is at a crossroads, with exciting new opportunities for growth, but ongoing problems of unemployment, poor skills and low educational performance, a new report has revealed.

The economy of the Waveney district is at a crossroads, with exciting new opportunities for growth, but ongoing problems of unemployment, poor skills and low educational performance, a new report has revealed.

Waveney District Council has launched its economic regeneration strategy for 2008-2017, detailing ambitious proposals to drive the area forward, but recognising it has been seen as “an area of need” for too long.

The district has faced a decline in traditional manufacturing industries and fishing so must now grasp the opportunities presented by new growth sectors such as renewable energy, the report says. However, it stressed the district's workers were earning more than a fifth less than people elsewhere in the eastern region while unemployment is still higher than the Suffolk average.

Figures showed 19.5pc of the working population in Waveney had no qualifications, compared with 15.8pc for Suffolk and 13.2pc for the east, and exam performances have also fared worse than the rest of Suffolk.

The report says: “The Waveney economy is currently at a crossroads with many exciting and valuable new opportunities, but equally major workforce and infrastructure issues.” It recognises that Waveney has responded to changes in manufacturing and employment needs by developing new sectors, such as offshore energy.

“However, challenges remain if the overall economic well-being of Waveney residents is to be raised to meet and exceed regional averages,” the report adds.

“Average wages are 22pc below the regional average, unemployment is twice the regional average and poor educational performance, and low skills and poor participation at both further and higher education is of real concern as the next generation will need to have the skills to meet the needs of the newer and more innovative businesses.”

The document sets out how regeneration officers have been tasked with securing more investment through the private and public sector, while the new University Campus Suffolk and Lowestoft College have been highlighted as vital in the push to improve skills. It also stresses the importance of building the district's tourism industry and improving transport links across the area, while highlighting the importance of the work being carried out by the 1st East Urban Regeneration Company to redevelop large swathes of derelict waterfront land in Lowestoft.

Wendy Mawer, the council's portfolio holder for economic regeneration, said: “For too long, Waveney has been seen simply as an area of need. Despite possible changes to the future shape of local government in Suffolk, we are determined to show the true value of Waveney as a wealth creator of regional and national importance.”

The strategy can be downloaded from the council's website, via www.EDP24.co.uk/dailylinks.


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