Town praised for 'Obama-esque' approach to change
Friday, 13th November 2009.
Haverhill's approach to change has been likened to that of America under President Obama by a Tesco representative.
Nick Gellatly was speaking at the official opening of the new-look Queen Street this morning (Friday) when a plaque was unveiled to commemorate the occasion.
The £400,000 scheme has been jointly funded by Suffolk County Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Tesco, and representatives of all three took part in the ceremony.
It has provided environmental enhancements, including new paving and street surfaces, street furniture, lighting and the creation of an informal meeting place with seating and trees.
Pieces of public art have been commissioned and are in production.
Mr Gellatly said regeneration involved a kind of spiritual rebirth which was not just a process but a feeling and an attitude.
"It's not just about buildings," he said. "It's about about why I'd rather be in Haverhill than anywhere else.
"If ever there was a place which has undergone regeneration in recent years it is Haverhill."
He described the approach to change in Haverhill as 'almost Obama-esque', and praised the way the town worked together.
"For us at Tesco, we are delighted to be part of the response to these challenges.
"You could not be better placed to see more and more people coming to see what Haverhill has to offer."
He said in their first survey at the new store customers had told them its location meant they were using other nearby shops more often.
"It's too early to know how people will shop after the novelty has worn off," he admitted.
But he said the Italian market in Queen Street for the weekend was a great example of the 'street theatre' needed to get people out of their homes and into town shops.
The leader of St Edmundsbury Council, Cllr John Griffiths, said the changes were 'dramatic' and were helping transform the fastest-growing town in Suffolk.
Cllr Guy McGregor of Suffolk County Council said the concept of shared space (vehicle and pedestrian usage) was controversial but gave a more friendly and vibrant feel to the area.
Among the improvements had been the removal of street clutter and provision of new signage. Some unique public art was on the way, designed with the help of Samuel Ward and Castle Manor colleges.
In parallel to the enhancement work, a scheme offering Queen Street traders grants to improve their shop fronts has been well supported.
El;even properties have been put forward for grants of between 70 and 90 per cent of eligible works up to a limit of £10,000 total cost. Once natified, the successful applicants will have two years to complete the work.
* Our picture shows Cllr Griffiths, Mr Gellatly and Cllr McGregor unveiling the plaque.
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