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Wellingborough’s economy set to grow

Published Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Wellingborough councillors last night welcomed new plans to boost economic growth in the area over the next ten years.

Members of the development committee discussed the plans at yesterday's meeting after being presented with a new economic development strategy. Back in January the council received government funding to appoint consultants DTZ to help them compile the detailed study of the current economic situation in Wellingborough, and offer guidance on how best to improve business investment and encourage growth. Local businesses also gave their opinions and ideas during an extensive consultation. The result is a strategy that aims to create a vibrant town centre, improve the visitor economy and raise education and skill levels.

The strategy shows that Wellingborough has many strengths, such as good transport links, free parking and competitively-priced office space. However, there are also many challenges that need to be addressed. The borough is dominated by low-skilled jobs, a significant amount of the population has no qualifications, and those that do earn high wages tend to work outside the
borough. It was also thought that the town centre needed more diversity and more could be done
to attract investment.

Specific plans are now being put into place to improve the situation and an economic development forum will be created to oversee the strategy and make sure action is taken. Aims include increasing the range of retailers in the town centre, improving the mix of leisure attractions to encourage more people to visit, ensuring quality land and premises are available for growth, developing young people's skills and increasing vocational training and higher education to match the needs of local businesses.

Cllr Graham Lawman, chairman of the development committee said: "We needed to find out what makes Wellingborough a good place to live and work, and what more needs to be done to raise our profile and ensure sustainable economic growth. We need to attract potential investors and
give them the confidence that we do have a plan and the commitment to deliver it. And we need to work closely with education and training establishments as well as employers to give young people every opportunity. We have very limited resources and we face considerable competition from other nearby towns, but this strategy will help us concentrate our efforts where they will be most useful. The key is to work closely with a number of other organisations and we'll set up a group to make sure we can use these partnerships well, as well as make more innovative use of our assets. The strategy is ambitious and challenging but it is achievable."