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Businesses asked to help get younger people's opinions on town's future

Thursday, 17th February 2011.

A council officer has urged local businesses to help get busy, younger people to take part in deciding Haverhill's future.

Talking to the monthly networking meeting of thebestofHaverhill, St Edmundsbury Borough Council principal planning officer Chris Rand outlined Vision 2031, the consultation phase which will help create the next Haverhill Masterplan.

It was the latest in a seroes of consultation events all over the town about the masterplan, as council planners try to find out what people want for Haverhill over the next 20 years.

But Mr Rand said the hardest group of the population to reach were the 18-45s, because they were busy working, raising families and running businesses, and had little time to get involved in the process.

He asked his audience of local business people to help by taking posters or questionnaires to their workplaces and distributing postcards on which people can enumerate their priorities for the town.

"I go to these consultation events and look around the room, and I feel decidedly young," Mr Rand said.

"We are talking about Haverhill in 20 years' time and I look around and think, well, that's not going to concern quite a lot of the people there.

"We have had a good response from schools involving pupils and getting the youngest age groups, but it is the 18-45s who are hardest to reach."

Mr Rand said the council wanted everyone to tell them what was wrong with Haverhill and what was right with it, and from there they could move forward to create a plan to achieve those things.

He was asked how far planners were spreading the net in asking questions to get information to feed into the plan, particularly as many local villages were in Essex or Cambridgeshire, but looked to Haverhill.

Mr Rand admitted it was a 'perennial' problem, but he said they would be asking some questions in these villages, and they worked very closely with Braintree District Council.

He was speaking in a room at Days Inn, which stands half in Suffolk and half in Essex, and admitted parts of the planning process for that site had been 'a nightmare' as a result.

Mick Smith, chairman of Haverhill Association of Voluntary Organisations, asked how the planners could fairly balance the requirements of the town and the surrounding villages when it came to growth.

"I look round at these consultation events and I reckon 20 per cent of the people are from Haverhill and 80 per cent from the villages. How can you deal with that?" he asked.

Mr Rand said the villages were engaging well with the process. "There is the fear element there about Haverhill's growth, but they are talking to us.

"The topography helps because they can see when they look at it that this growth is not going to swamp them. It will hardly affect them at all, and might bring the benefit of improved services."

Haverhill Online News

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