A LEADING employer in St Ives has urged local business and political leaders to grasp the opportunities offered by transport infrastructure plans. Eaden Lilley, managing director of department store group W Eaden Lilley & Co, believes plans for public transport improvements could also be a catalyst for a mini economic development boom. The plans, produced by Cambridgeshire County Council in conjunction with Huntingdonshire District Council, South Cambs District Council and St Ives Town Council, are being finalised after consultation. The detailed proposals include road safety measures, environmental improvements, walking and cycling facilities, improvements to bus routes and waiting areas and, crucially, he says, the guided bus scheme on which work is due to start soon. According to Mr Lilley, the plans will provide better and safer access and can provide the town with a new platform to drive increased commercial activity. He said: "These plans and initiatives add up to a real strategic boost for the area and it is vital that the town's business, community and political leaders take up the challenge - or lose the prize. "We must collectively promote all that is good about St Ives by developing a real tourist and shopping experience for visitors." Research in St Ives town centre by the town centre management team showed that 93 per cent of those visiting St Ives do so to shop, while an average of 90 per cent thought it was easy to get around the town, that shops were welcoming and offered good customer service, that the streets were clean and the town centre was attractive. St Ives town centre manager Deni Darke said: "St Ives has worked hard in recent years to boost trade but the new plans for improved transport links are an opportunity too good to miss." According to Mr Lilley, swathes of new housing along the route of the guided bus, including Northstowe, will present the town with an opportunity to widen its appeal. "When it becomes even easier to get to St Ives, why shouldn't we be able to boost visitor numbers still further?" he said.