Moving Thetford Forward - has it been a success?

Thetford town council celebrate the completion on the new town centre Square in Thetford. Chris Crimmen, Ruth Carter, Maurice Howard, Sarah Lewis and former mayor Stuart Wright Photo: Sonya Duncan Thetford town council celebrate the completion on the new town centre Square in Thetford. Chris Crimmen, Ruth Carter, Maurice Howard, Sarah Lewis and former mayor Stuart Wright Photo: Sonya Duncan

Monday, September 1, 2014
2:58 PM

It’s a scheme that promised to regenerate Thetford, support economic development and promote the town.

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Set up in the wake of the town being given Growth Point status, the Moving Thetford Forward (MTF) scheme was given £7m in Government funding in 2008.

While Breckland Council has been the main accountable authority for the project, the spending of that money has been decided upon by the MTF board, a combination of representatives and stakeholders from councils, volunteer groups, business, the NHS, and housing associations.

That £7m also acted as a catalyst for further investment, with around £25m eventually being drummed up by MTF, the majority of which came through a £16m package from the Home and Communities Agency (HCA) to improve housing estates.

Just £450,000 remain from that £25m pot, with more than 24 projects completed and eight continuing.

MTF has not been without its detractors, with squabbles about how the board should be managed and complaints from members of the public that they have not been engaged with the decision-making process.

But Rob Walker, Breckland Council’s assistant director for community, said the project had been a success, with input from various stakeholders proving invaluable.

“We feel that if you look at the projects which have been completed, they have gone well. People have got round the table, many of whom are elected representatives speaking for residents, and allocated the money in the way they see fit,” he said.

But while projects have been delivered successfully in Breckland’s eyes, MTF’s two highest profile initiatives have come under fire.

The yet to be named town centre square development in King Street cost £650,000 and has been met with widespread disapproval, from residents and business owners.

Plans for a new bus interchange, in Minstergate, have also been criticised for a lack of public engagement and fears over health and safety.

Mr Walker responded: “I think we recognise there are criticisms but in every major project there are tensions. The key question is ‘have we delivered something that is usable for local residents?’

“I think in the case of the town centre square, we have done that. I also think if you ask the businesses around that square about it, they wanted the area regenerated and would say it has been a benefit to their business.

“In terms of the bus station, freeing up the Riverside site will be of massive benefit to Thetford. Norfolk County Council are leading the project and have identified what they believe to be the appropriate site.”

Do you have a Thetford story? Email andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

6 comments

  • Having seen Moving Thetford Forward's two completed projects in town: Haling Path and Kings Square (not sure what the other 22 completed projects are, I must have missed those), all I can say is £24.55million well spent!!!!! What an absolute disgrace. MTF's spending must be audited - surely there should be some form of enquiry into exactly where this money has "disappeared" to.

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    j.gomer

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

  • Surely everyone can see that this is something worth celebrating - Where else can you get some patio slabs and a broken clock for £650k?

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    sjskull

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

  • Poor Rob Walker - he obviously hasn't been to Thetford and spoken to the residents who have to put up with a barren, uninviting landscape with an open air urinal lookalike in the centre of their historic town. He must have a short memory as he seems to have forgotten the Haling Path fiasco. He has also forgotten the result of the Parish Poll about the location of the bus station. He's also forgotten that the bus station lead officer for NCC, Tim Edmunds, said that the new bus station site had an Achilles Heel - safety of buses leaving the site having to cross to the other side of the road. NCC have worked on the hoof - changing the layout of the new bus station entrance to direct pedestrians into the entrance of the site! NCC resurfaced Minstergate only for it to be dug up a week later. Great planning NCC. Poor Rob thinks that the new town centre will be of benefit to local businesses. It is of benefit to the skateboarders Rob... and a danger to pedestrians. If he ever gets to visit the town he will see for himself and will realise that the new clock doesn't work - but then, perhaps, he's forgotten where Thetford is!

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    S Wilson

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • MOVING THETFORD BACKWARDS SAYS IT ALL

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    Jacob Burns

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • The most expensive urinal in the country. They could not organise a .... up in a brewery. Just look at the poor state of the town centre and the housing estates. What have they done with all the money

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    Jacob Burns

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • How ironic that the article is accompanied by a photograph of Kings Square. This MTF project has been an unmitigated disaster. It is unattractive and does not fit in with the streetscape at all. The new clock does not work, the water feature strongly resembles a male urinal, and the whole area is used as a skateboardscooterbike park every evening. I think most Thetford residents are pretty fed up with it and see it as a prime example of the work of 'Moving Thetford Backwards' as the MTF has become known.

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    caroline jacobs

    Monday, September 1, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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