Political row breaks out over Lowestoft Conference
PUBLISHED: 11:45 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:45 14 March 2014
A war of words erupted this week over a conference set up to discuss plans to regenerate Lowestoft.
As reported last week, the Lowestoft Conference will be held on Tuesday, April 15 to give people a chance to hear more about the plans drawn up by Waveney district and Suffolk county councils and their partnership agencies to foster economic growth, improve the town’s transport and infrastructure and breathe new life into the Lake Lothing area.
However, the Waveney-organised conference at Lowestoft Sixth Form College has been labelled a sham by Labour politicians who claim it is “not a public meeting” and that it has been “stage managed” as it is being held during the Easter school holidays, with people required to register to attend the main event between 8.30am and 11.30am.
Conservative council leader Colin Law has hit back at Bob Blizzard, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, and Tod Sullivan, leader of Waveney’s Labour group, accusing them of trying to “derail” the conference.
Mr Blizzard says the conference will not allow people have a full say on the controversial Area Action Plan (AAP) to regenerate Lake Lothing, including plans to build hundreds of homes on the former Sanyo factory site.
He said: “If you wanted to avoid engaging with the public, you would pick an early weekday morning in a holiday week and ask people to register to attend.
“It is almost as though the Conservatives are frightened of people’s opposition to their disastrous action plan.”
Mr Sullivan added: “Subjects like a third crossing, a flood barrage and providing land for new jobs are of huge public interest. There should be an open public meeting designed to maximise the attendance.”
As well as the AAP, the conference will seek to explain the benefits of the New Anglia Local Partnership and the Lowestoft Transport and Infrastructure Prospectus.
Mr Law said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Lowestoft to listen to and speak with local experts on a wide range of important topics and I’m absolutely appalled that Bob Blizzard and others are trying to derail this landmark event.
“From day one I’ve made it clear that this would be a chance for people to learn how a number of exciting plans and proposals for the town fit together.
“By criticising the event so forcefully, it appears Mr Blizzard wants as few people as possible to turn up and as few people as possible to get a clear understanding on what is happening in Lowestoft.
“The only reason we are asking people to register is so that we avoid any capacity issues in the main conference. I am really looking forward to meeting people from the town, listening to some forthright views and answering important questions on a host of different topics.”
■To register for the conference, visit www.waveney.gov.uk and click on “Lowestoft Conference”. The closing date is Friday, March 28 and not as reported in today’s Journal.
Registration is not required to visit information stands at the event.