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CEO optimistic about future of Lowestoft

PUBLISHED: 16:20 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:24 29 March 2019

Stephen Baker, chief executive of WDC and SCDC, has outlined his hopes for the future of Lowestoft. Picture: Archant

Stephen Baker, chief executive of WDC and SCDC, has outlined his hopes for the future of Lowestoft. Picture: Archant

Archant

The chief executive of the new East Suffolk Council has outlined his hopes for the future of Lowestoft.

Stephen Baker, who already heads up Waveney District Council (WDC) and Suffolk Coastal District Council, gave his thoughts on the town’s fortunes ahead of the councils’ official merger on Monday, April 1.

Concerns have been raised in recent weeks by Waveney MP Peter Aldous, among others, following a spate of high street closures which have seen stores including Claire’s and The Body Shop leave the town.

Kerrys Home Furnishings became the latest business to announce its closure this week, although the vacant store will be filled by a “big national chain”.

WDC is one of several councils in the region to apply for a slice of the Future High Street Fund, worth £675m and earmarked for re-imagining the modern day British high street.

Speaking at a Suffolk Chamber of Commerce meeting for Lowestoft and Waveney on Friday morning, Mr Baker said he was determined to revitalise the town centre and enhance Lowestoft’s appeal.

“We are going to be making a substantial bid for the Future High Streets Fund,” said Mr Baker. “We’ll be going for around £10m to £15m.

“We’re looking to create more attractions around the nighttime economy, the post office will soon be redeveloped and Lowestoft train station has got to be cleaned up and used to our advantage.

“First Light Festival is going to be a massive event for Lowestoft - it’s going to put this town on the map. Wayne Hemingway has that national profile and it’s great that we’ve been able to attract people like Gilles Peterson.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge but these are the things we want to work on.”

The new local authority has been dubbed a “super council”, and its creation will mark the end of an 11-year journey.

Other councils bidding for a slice of the Future High Street Fund include Great Yarmouth Borough Council, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, Breckland Council and South Norfolk Council.

What would you like to see change in Lowestoft? Email thomas.chapman@archant.co.uk

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