Great Yarmouth is our close friend says Dutch ambassador on high profile visit

The Dutch Ambassador, Simon Smits (centre) visiting Great Yarmouth Town Hall. Pictured with, left to

The Dutch Ambassador, Simon Smits (centre) visiting Great Yarmouth Town Hall. Pictured with, left to right, Honorary Dutch consul for Norfolk Andrew Wood, CEO of Great Yarmouth Borough Council Sheila Oxtoby, Great Yarmouth Town Mayor cllr Kerry Robinson-Payne and Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader cllr Graham Plant. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

I am proud of our close links with Great Yarmouth and long may they continue.

That was the message from Simon Smits, The Netherlands ambassador to this country, as he visited the town and heard about its bright business future.

Mr Smits attended a lunchtime reception at the Town Hall where he met civic leaders and energy sector business leaders, including some from several Dutch-owned businesses, before he was given a tour of the port.

Addressing the attendees he said he was impressed by Yarmouth's 'adaptable' approach in taking on and developing new industries, from fossil fuels to the renewable energy sector, and praised its 'entrepreneurial spirit'.

The meeting also heard of the Netherlands close links to Yarmouth, such as Dutch fishermen having a fleet of 250 vessels in its port in the 1750s and a Dutch engineer developing the port's infrastructure in the 1560s,

Looking forward to the strong continuing business and tourism links reaping further mutual benefits, Mr Smits said he was proud his country was 'a close neighbour' and added: 'We will always be good neighbours.'

Mr Smith said he was also impressed by the town's historic buildings and praised local authorities for preserving the town's heritage.

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He said: 'It is extremely important to cherish your heritage.'

Fraser Coull, director of Venco Offshore, which has had a presence in Yarmouth since 2013 and has about 70 working out of the resort, was at the meeting.

He said Yarmouth was an 'important' base for the company's operations especially with the cross border work it carries out.

Speaking at the reception was Sheila Oxtoby, chief executive of Great Yarmouth Borough Council and who explained the borough's business merits, such as being at the forefront of a £39bn renewable drive for the next 20 years.

She also praised Dutch-owned firms, such as Peterson and Gardline, for playing a role in the borough's economy.

She added: 'We look forward to forging more links in the future.'

Borough council leader Graham Plant also spoke about the Netherlands' long history with Yarmouth and mayor Kerry Robinson-Payne presented a picture to the ambassador, who visited Norwich afterwards.