Government minister learns of funding legacy in Breckland

A government minister learned how much has been achieved in Thetford and the surrounding Breckland district with the help of European funding when she paid a visit to the area.

Baroness Hanham CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, visited Thetford today (Thursday) as part of a tour around the Eastern Region to learn more about projects which have benefited from European Regional Development Funding (ERDF).

Her day began at the ERDF-funded Keystone Innovation Centre, in Croxton Road, where she heard how European funding had been secured for the district. This included �37m for a number of projects including Community Economic Regeneration and Cultural Packages and a further �3.2m for the REV ACTIVE project which aims to cut emission from small and medium sized businesses while saving them money.

Baroness Hanham then met with project beneficiaries including representatives from the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre, the Thetford Enterprise Factory and the Ancient House Museum.

She said: 'This is an extremely interesting visit. I think what has impressed me most is a project like this where you have supported services, and people who might have otherwise not set up business but can do here.

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'One particular woman was working from home but has an office from here and that's completely what we want. There have been quite a lot of these projects across the country but they all have the same aim which is to get smaller businesses off the ground and give them the confidence they haven't had before.

'That's when the economy get's going - when people get going.'

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The party then visited Warren Services at the Fison Way Industrial Estate. The company received funding from Breckland's Rural Enterprise Valley (REV) project in 2007 to purchase machinery which enabled the business to grow.

Breckland Council's economic development manager, Mark Stanton, said: 'I think we've got some challenges going forward, especially how we deliver European projects in the future against a background of reduced match funding.

'We must attract private sector investment but I think we've been very successful in doing that here.'

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