Did we learn anything from the Lowestoft Conference?

Did we learn anything from the Lowestoft Conference? Council Leader Colin Law believes that “people do not fully understand what we are trying to achieve”. That might sometimes be true, but when they do understand they often don’t like what they hear and they also believe that the Council will carry on regardless. The hoped for third crossing, not the answer to all our ills but surely it could be part of the answer, remains a shape shifting dream with no plan, no start date and no funding. By contrast the Council’s plans for the old Sanyo and Brooke Marine sites on the south side of Lake Lothing are being fast tracked. Waveney District Council was able to find £2.4m and do a deal to buy the Sanyo site in little more than days.

The buildings are to be demolished, the docks filled in and the land devoted to housing as part of the Council’s Area Action Plan. We all understand that. But could not the existing industrial buildings, the offices and workshops with their an infrastructure of roads, power and sewers, be developed as small industrial units? Couldn’t the docks be brought back into use? The land suitable for housing could still be used.

The question blew up at the Lowestoft Conference with heated exchanges involving Colin Law and property developer and industrialist Peter Colby. Colby wants to buy and develop both sites. He believes that his proposals are viable, would create jobs and, of course, be profitable for himself. That is what he does. I don’t know how Colby earned his money but he is willing to spend it on this development.

The sites also have problems with contamination and there are flood risks, both of which could involve sizeable costs for the Council and any potential house builder. The viability of the whole house building programme on that site has been questioned by local developers Badger Building. In this case “the people” do  fully understand what the Council is trying to do and, I would say, they don’t like it.

Lowestoft Coalition against the Cuts wants a re-examination which considers redevelopment rather than demolition. These waterfront sites could be priceless as part of the development of the town’s engineering and manufacturing economy. What is the Council’s objection other than that it isn’t in the plan? What is the rush and what is the risk when Colby wants to spend his own money? If Waveney District Council can afford to employ a barrister to get a second opinion on the Tesco store then it can employ outside expertise to look at the the redevelopment option. The people of Lowestoft do understand this issue. I believe that they want jobs and not housing on these sites. Whatever the history between the two, the Council should begin by talking to Peter Colby.

Will the Council’s Labour Group, who were unaware that Colby already had an offer on the table when they agreed to the Council’s purchase of the Sanyo site, press more forcefully for a reassessment? Perhaps they should lodge a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman about the Tory administration’s behaviour? They shouldn’t give up. The town desperately needs and wants jobs. Once the bulldozers move in, and they are poised to do so, it will be too late. Council elections are on the horizon. Failed councillors, of whatever party, are likely to be history as well.

4 thoughts on “Did we learn anything from the Lowestoft Conference?

  1. It’s good to see your new website but you seem to have some teething problems! I note that the write-up on the ‘CONference’ repeats itself several times. Hopefully you will correct this as it doesn’t give a good impression. I hope this is not taken as being too critical.
    Has anyone suggested yet that the Tory ‘plan’ for housing development on the south side of Lake Lothing may have an element of ‘gerrymandering’ in it. I have my suspicions that the type of people they want to attract to a ‘lakeside’ development are predominantly well heeled boating fraternity types who will in the main be Tory supporters. This combined with the gradual tie up with Suffolk Coastal will ensure a Tory stronghold in this part of Suffolk!!!! Peter Colby’s plans to keep the Sanyo site as an industrial area would jeopardise the Tory plans hence their ‘behind closed doors’ deal with Sanyo.
    W. ‘Robbie’ Robertson

    • Thanks for that Robbie. The glitch has been corrected. There does seem to a determination by the Council/s to build south of the bridge eg the joint WDC/SCC Riverside Road offices which make no sense in financial, economic, environmental or any other grounds you care to mention. I suspect that WDC will go – as you say there are all kinds of tie-ups with Suffolk Coastal and also SCC and now Norfolk County Council – some kind of reorganisation is being planned.

    • Hi William, I agree with all you say here..

      We met briefly at the CON .. ference. in the group we3
      sat near each other and agreed with each other … but like Peter Colby didn’t get very far as it was all stage managed… Perhaps we could meet up and have a chin wag. Tim

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