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Town's hope for 400 government jobs

PUBLISHED: 09:07 21 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:34 05 July 2010

AN ambitious bid has been launched to locate a new government department in Lowestoft, bringing up to 400 jobs to the town and providing a shot in the arm to the local economy.

AN ambitious bid has been launched to locate a new government department in Lowestoft, bringing up to 400 jobs to the town and providing a shot in the arm to the local economy.

Ministers have indicated they want the new Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to be sited outside London, with Lowestoft being put forward as a contender to house it in the planned Waveney Campus development.

Waveney MP Bob Blizzard revealed he joined forces with district council chief executive Stephen Baker to put the case to environment minister Huw Irranca-Davies, and the announcement of a shortlist is expected soon.

Mr Blizzard said: “I feel that Lowestoft would be an ideal location for this MMO. It is a fantastic opportunity and I feel very hopeful that we will get on the shortlist. I do feel that we have got the best case, but there will be tough competition.

“It will be a boost to the economy because you are talking about people coming to work in Lowestoft with quality jobs and spending power. It would be a real injection into the local economy.

“It will also be great for our young people. Instead of going to university and not coming back, they will think they could come back to Lowestoft and work in this kind of place.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says bringing together a new centre of marine expertise under one roof is an important part of the Marine Bill, currently going through Parliament.

It is understood more than 20 locations have been submitted, with these about to be whittled down to a shortlist of four. A final decision is expected before the end of the year.

Mr Blizzard said he believed Lowestoft had a strong case because of its strong maritime links and the fact the highly respected Cefas marine science laboratory is to relocate from its current base in Pakefield to the Waveney Campus.

The Campus will be built by the banks of Lake Lothing, off Riverside Road, and is also planned to house council officers from Waveney District and Suffolk County Councils.

The project was suspended earlier this year following the announcement of the local government review, which could see Lowestoft governed by a Norfolk unitary council.

A subsequent commitment to the project by all potential partners has got it back on track, although it has not been confirmed if it is still due to open by the autumn of 2010.

Mr Blizzard said he was confident the Campus would be able to accommodate workers from the MMO and said its waterfront site, and the fact the project was already up and running, were important factors.

He also pointed to the town's growing excellence in the renewable energy sector and strong educational links with Lowestoft College, the University of East Anglia and University Campus Suffolk as huge selling points.

“It would be fantastic for Lowestoft if we could get this; there is the prospect of 300 to 400 high quality jobs coming into the area. There is a real need for regeneration in Lowestoft,” said Mr Blizzard.

“It will be able to share the site with Cefas, with which it is going to be working very closely. It would have a tremendous advantage in terms of synergy and efficiency.”

Mr Blizzard added: “People are going to want to come and live in a pleasant part of the country, and the quality of life in the Lowestoft area is very high. It is a very safe place to come and live.”

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