Economy is top of the agenda

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PROMOTING economic growth has been put at the heart of a new four-year strategy for Forest Heath District Council.

The authority has put aside £3.5 million for the new strategy, which will also focus upon housing, creating stronger communities and value for money.

James Waters, leader of Forest Heath District Council, said the strategic plan would create the right environment for economic growth and allow the council to work with existing and new businesses to help them quickly establish themselves in the district.

Proposals include making sites available to businesses, promoting the development of faster broadband in the area, providing start-up businesses with support, loans and grants, and making progress towards the creation of an innovation park in the district.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The new measures announced by Forest Heath District Council will be welcomed by the business community, especially at this challenging time for the local economy.

“Providing real tangible support, including grants, loans and the streamlining of contracts would make a real difference.”

The four key policy areas were drawn up by Forest Heath District Council following a public consultation .

Other proposals include ensuring there are enough houses in the district to meet future need by making sure land is available to build new homes and working the owners of empty properties to bring them back into use.

Each councillor will also be given a locality budget which they will spend in their ward after consulting with the community.

The strategic plan will be partly funded by the Government’s New Homes Bonus which saw the council receive a set amount for each new home built in the district.

Cllr Waters said: “This plan is not just words, it’s something that will make a real difference to people because it has £3.5 million funding attached to it.

“It’s not an overnight transformation but there will be visible progress over the four years.”

The strategic plan will go before full council for approval on June 21.