An ambitious long-term action plan to revitalise Wisbech is making steady progress, but there is still much to do.
That was the verdictof a conference on Friday revealing work so far on a blueprint aiming to make the town a better place to work, live and visit.
Around 80 councillors, business leaders and community representatives met at the Wisbech Boathouse business centre for an update on the Wisbech 2020 Vision, nearly two years after it launched.
Fenland District Council leader John Clark, who is spearheading the project with Cambridgeshire County Council leader Steve Count and North East Cambridgeshire MP Stephen Barclay, said: “The hard work and effective collaboration between the public, private and voluntary sector is beginning to pay off.
“We know the Wisbech 2020 Vision is a long-term project, and we can’t achieve all our ambitions overnight. However, we have come a long way.”
The conference heard details of significant advances in the town, such as an imminent housing development for the former gas works site, economic development such as the new Tesco store, cinema and restaurants in Cromwell Road andefforts to regenerate the High Street and tackle dilapidated buildings.
But one of the biggest issues delegates wanted to push was work on better transport infastructure projects such as improvements to the A47 and re-opening the rail line to March.
Councillor Count revealed that work was already under way on spending £1 million, promised back by the Government next April, for rail and road studies.
“We are working together with all our partners to make sure we are moving ahead on these issues,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, participants were asked to sign a ‘vision pledge’ committing them to specific actions to take the project forward.
Speaking afterwards, Nicky Morrison, from the University of Cambridge, which produced a £20,000 study on the economic prospects for Wisbech, said: “I have been thoroughly impressed by the level of engagement and how much work has been done over the past year.
“But we can’t stop here – we have to maintain the momentum.”