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Wisbech 2020 Vision: breadth of change 'inspirational'

Wisbech is seeing real benefits emerging from the close partnerships formed under the umbrella of the Wisbech 2020 Vision.

Wisbech 2020 summit March 2015

The project is succeeding in raising the town's profile, both within Cambridgeshire and nationally. And that is proving instrumental in helping to attract significant financial investment.

That was the good news spelt out at the third "Vision Summit", held today (Friday, March 13) to examine the progress made in the two years since the launch of the project's 29-point "action plan" to regenerate the town and its surrounding area.

Some of the key achievements to date were outlined by Councillors Steve Count and John Clark, leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council, Stephen Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, and Peter Simpson, chief executive of Anglian Water.

More than 60 councillors, business leaders and community group representatives attended the four-hour summit at the Boathouse in Wisbech.

Cllr Count said: "Wisbech 2020 is forging forward and bringing improvements to the communities we serve. What is inspirational is the breadth of the change and involvement that this initiative has brought.

"We are seeing the public, academic, volunteers and private sectors working together. There has and will be millions of pounds of investment and we have seen Government listen to the need for major transport improvements such as rail and the A47.

"Some of these changes have been quick and some take time to make sure we get the funding and the schemes right. But what is clear is that it would be unlikely any of this would have moved forward in the way it has without Wisbech 2020 and the determination of its partners."

Cllr Clark said: "I'm very proud of what we have all achieved to date. We have made some great strides in improving the town in all sorts of ways and people are seeing those benefits. We know there will always be more to do, which is why we are here today - to see how best we can take this vision forward. We remain fully committed to that task."

Mr Barclay said: "This summit shows that considerable progress is being made. But we are not under any illusion about how much remains to be done. What has changed is the range of partners now engaged constructively from industry leaders, senior health professionals, all tiers of government and major charities.

"The key next step is to achieve the roll-out off the Wisbech to Cambridge rail link so we can access the additional £10.5 million allocated by the Government on top of the initial £1 million."

Mr Simpson pledged the continuing commitment of Anglian Water and its partner companies to the project. He highlighted the strong and growing partnership with the College of West Anglia.

"The mood in this room today is tangible - people really feel differently about what is being achieved," he said. "Now we need to keep up the momentum and develop the vision further."

The meeting also focused on the continuing drive to improve skills and education in the area and the measures needed to tackle health issues such as smoking and obesity.

Adrian Cannard, ‎strategy and planning director at the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: "Our Skill Service is working with Wisbech businesses and schools to inspire school children to meet the skills needs of the future.

"Getting the right skills is vital to economic growth in Wisbech, as existing businesses innovate and new sectors develop. The LEP with local partners is supporting that growth by making sure the training offer reflects what businesses want."

Dr Liz Robin, director for public health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "Health is everybody's business and Wisbech 2020 has really put health on the map for the town. We know the town has high rates of smoking and the number of people suffering from illnesses such as coronary heart disease is a real concern.

"What's important about Wisbech 2020 is that it has brought together partners who are working to tackle these issues and improve health and wellbeing for people in this town."

Wisbech 2020 Vision


KEY ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE OF THE WISBECH 2020 VISION

Investment/economy
• A further £6m investment for the College of West Anglia with new facilities due to open in September 2015 on top of CCC/FDC investment for Engineering Skills
• £19,000 funding received to promote and diversify the arts and culture offer in the town
• New Tesco superstore opened in Cromwell Road, along with cinema and restaurants

Transport/infrastructure
• 'Infrastructure for Growth' campaign launched to help drive the economic case for transport improvements, including the Wisbech to Cambridge rail link through March
• £1m of funding received for feasibility work on improving transport in and around Wisbech
• A further £10.5m of funding earmarked for transport improvements in Wisbech for 2016 - 2021, subject to feasibility studies
• £300m investment approved for A47, including improvements to the Guyhirn roundabout.
• Wisbech Market Town Transport Strategy developed and adopted by Cambs County Council

Dilapidated buildings/Street scene
• Successful first-round bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £2m to improve the High Street. Development funding of £108,000 granted to help prepare second-round bid
• Work well under way on repairing Constantine House and bringing it back into use
• Increased enforcement patrols by PCSOs and Street Scene officers, supported by community groups' tidy-up events

Community
• Operation Pheasant's award-winning success in tackling migrant exploitation, rogue landlords and problems with HMOs
• Volunteers recruited and trained to deliver a community translation/interpretation service plus extra ESOL courses delivered.
• Successful Time Credits volunteering scheme established
• Dedicated campaign to promote the provision and use of high speed broadband

Homes
• Large part of the Nene Waterfront Site sold to local developer which will create 70 homes, including 24 affordables
• 94 new homes built and let in and around Wisbech, with 69 more properties planned for 2015/16
• Quality building design chosen for Coalwharf Road development

Article added March 16, 2015