Successful first year for Swaffham town plan

Volunteers behind an ambitious 10-year plan to revitalise Swaffham have had a successful first year.

Advance Swaffham, a Vision for the Next Decade, was launched in October 2009 after extensive research into the wants and needs of residents, businesses, young people and visitors.

The project is overseen by the Town Partnership Committee, an alliance between the town council and the Iceni Partnership, and the detailed plan sets out more than 100 goals divided into 16 categories.

A 22-page annual report, published last week, sets out the progress made in a number of areas over the last 12 months.

Achievements include two regional awards recognising the transformation taking place and a silver Anglia In Bloom award for the town's first full entry.

Lottery funding was secured and work began on the first phase of the town's community orchard, the historic Saturday auction was re-launched in October and

Swaffham became Breckland's first plastic bag-free town.

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A communications and marketing strategy has also been produced outlining the 'Swaffham brand' which will be used to promote the town in partnership with other organisations, including Swaffham Tourism Association.

The new town logo, with the strap line 'Historic Swaffham: welcoming, thriving, environmentally friendly' has also been agreed.

Advance Swaffham won an Action for Market Towns (East of England) award in the strategic partnerships category and the plan was also recognised by the EDP-sponsored Pride in Norfolk Awards, when Swaffham was a winner in the towns over 5,000 population category.

Over the coming months, the team will continue to promote the town's markets, work to improve traffic links with surrounding villages and work to attract more visitors to Swaffham.

The town's youth council has also been working with the Town Partnership Committee's economy group to build up interest in a Christmas lights scheme in the town this year.

Chairman David Wickerson said: 'Overall I think it's been a good 12 months. The two awards we received highlighted our success. The main issue moving forward is funding and we are working with external agencies trying to obtain funding. There are certain projects we can do independently, some where we need some assistance and others that are dependant on external agencies.'

It has also been another successful year for the Iceni Partnership, with more than 70,000 people attending a variety of events at the Assembly Rooms and Swaffham Community Centre.

The organisation has also received seven 'best practice' visits from community groups keen to see how it works in the town.

A number of new groups have started at the community centre, including Scallywags Playgroup, Buddhist meditation and Alzheimer's Society, and a revamp of the small hall has just been completed.

The youth group is thriving, with more than 90 members meeting up to three times a week, and the Friday Market, held in the Assembly Rooms, has continued to grow.