St Neots riverside ‘ripe for exploitation’

THREE tiers of councils this morning promised to work together to deliver a five-year vision for an expanding St Neots and its town centre.

The announcement came at a special breakfast meeting before Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet met later.

Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire District Council had agreed to use the meeting as a catalyst to cement their relationship with partners and push ahead with improvements to the area.

Business leaders heard today that the councils had agreed to work closely together to deliver improvements that would help boost the local economy.

“This will build on existing work and aims to manage the growth in the town so the expansion of homes and jobs are managed in a way that enhances the town as a vibrant and attractive place in which to live, work and relax,” a county council spokesman said.

Cabinet members were in St Neots as part of a commitment to take open democracy to the county and hear the views and questions of local residents.

CCC leader Nick Clarke, said: “We have all been working hard for many years on behalf of St Neots, but the only way that we are going to do the best for this town is through effective collaboration. That means the county council, the district council and the town council working together.

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“Both the county council and Huntingdonshire District Council want to signal that intent strongly, so we have jointly authored a statement on where we want to go with St Neots town centre, and why this issue is so important to us.

“Equally, it is vital that we councillors get out into the communities we serve so that residents can get directly involved in local democracy and help share their views. Cabinet members will be travelling about St Neots talking to residents and looking at local projects. This is particularly important at this time when we are setting budgets and asking communities their help in setting our priorities.”

HDC leader Jason Ablewhite added: “We want to work together with the town council to help St Neots, Cambridgeshire’s largest town, which is under huge growth pressure, to continue to develop while safeguarding its own unique identity and offer.

“There is clear evidence that where market towns do this, offering a range of leisure as well as retail facilities, they thrive. It is also increasingly the case that a key ingredient in achieving this is the active engagement of the public authorities working in partnership with the private sector.”

In their joint statement they explained: “Central to success will be how the town centre develops, and we believe there are development opportunities and environmental improvements that can be exploited, while enhancing the character of this attractive market town.

“In particular, we believe the riverside offers huge potential and we wish to play our part as delivers of public services, including our role as planning and highway authorities but also as potential active development partners, to make sure this opportunity is maximised for the benefit of the town.”