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Waveney's brave initiatives unveiled

PUBLISHED: 09:27 25 January 2008 | UPDATED: 19:31 05 July 2010

A PLAN to encourage growth in Waveney was unveiled yesterday covering everything from better pay to more frequent trains and even a Dragon's Den-style competition modelled on the hit television show.

A PLAN to encourage growth in Waveney was unveiled yesterday covering everything from better pay to more frequent trains and even a Dragon's Den-style competition modelled on the hit television show.

It sets out ambitions for the district, which lags behind the rest of Suffolk in everything from qualifications to the numbers of people in work. It is half-way between a general wish-list and a set of things that will actually happen: some of the proposals are already under way, while others will depend on interest and cash from the private sector.

The glossy document, called the Waveney Prospectus, has been drawn up by Waveney District Council, Waveney Economic Partnership, the East of England Development Agency and the Waveney Community Forum. It was launched at the Cut arts centre in Halesworth in order to make the point that it was a plan for the four market towns just as much as Lowestoft. In fact the 1st East regeneration area around Lake Lothing is not covered by the plan.

One of the plans is a “Waveney Dragon's Den”, in which entrepreneurs would pitch ideas to a panel of five senior businessmen and venture capitalists, or “dragons”.

The plan says: “Each panel member could put up to £15,000 from their individual firms, giving a total investment fund of £75,000 to invest in two business ideas with high growth potential.”

Other investment ideas in the plan include managed business units for small businesses in market towns and villages; promotion of farming, especially organic or local food and drink and non-food crops such as biofuels; and a calendar of events for Waveney's market towns to promote them and avoid clashes between events in neighbouring towns. Graduates will be encouraged to stay in Waveney through work placements before and after they have graduated.

On transport, the plan calls for a third crossing of Lake Lothing - already put forward by 1st East - a relocated Lowestoft station and a £5m passing loop on the rail line at Beccles to allow hourly trains. It also calls for incentives to cycle such as workplace showers and a local code of conduct for drivers to protect cyclists

Wendy Mawer, Waveney's portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “It will make a real difference long term. We wouldn't be doing it otherwise. These are the aims over the next 10 years. It is what we and our partners hope to deliver for the area.”

The prospectus sets a series of targets for the area to reach by 2017.

They include raising the full time pay for Waveney employees from 83pc of the UK average to 90pc; increasing the number of jobs from 45,400 to 49,500; reducing the number of working people with no qualifications from 4pc above the Suffolk average to 2pc above the Suffolk average; and improving perceptions of Waveney among residents and businesses.

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