New town clerk confirms preparations under way to help Sudbury bounce back once coronavirus lockdown is lifted
Preparations to help Sudbury bounce back from the coronavirus crisis are under way, according to the new town clerk, who says key projects must be ready to progress once the lockdown is lifted.
Ciaran Griffin confirmed the town council is working with Babergh District Council on strategies for moving forward the ‘Vision for Sudbury’ outlined earlier this year, to support the recovery of the town’s economy in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
The vision document sets out long-term ambitions for the regeneration of the town centre, as well as major schemes at sites such as St Peter’s, Gainsborough’s House and Belle Vue Park – although work on these projects has largely stalled due to the outbreak.
However, Mr Griffin told the Free Press that, due to the uncertainty around how long the public lockdown may last, it is important for plans to be in place, so the town is ready to adapt to changing circumstances.
“I fear Covid-19 will drag on for some time, so I’m already talking to people at Babergh District Council about plans for how we’re going to help Sudbury to recover,” he said.
“The overall approach will be flexibility. The key thing is having options that we can bring into play as soon as things are stable.
“In terms of big projects, the Vision for Sudbury is very important for the future economy of the town. I’d like to see all the major projects beginning to deliver in the next two to three years.
“Obviously, some of the business proposals that would have made sense before Covid-19 will have to be reviewed. The key thing is that, long term, we want to have a vibrant centre in the heart of the community.
“I think footfall in the centre of town is very important. We’re very keen to promote the cultural side of things, because cultural activities will lead to economic opportunities.”
Mr Griffin, a 35-year Army veteran, who was introduced as the new town clerk at last week’s virtual annual general meeting, took over from Jacqui Howells in March, following her retirement after six years in the role.
A former Commander of Colchester Garrison, having served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia, he explained that his previous experience has prepared him well for dealing with the challenges of the current situation.
He also praised the Sudbury Town Council team for their efforts since the outbreak began, highlighting the community work by the community wardens, as well as town centre manager Rachel Price, who has set up a virtual high street to support local businesses.
“It’s a great role,” he said. “I’m working with a great team of people. The team have stretched their abilities to do an awful lot of good at the moment.
“Of course, it’s difficult, but I have a long history of doing this kind of role. I’m quite used to jumping into a difficult situation.”
Mr Griffin added that council meetings have been running smoothly since moving to a remote online format, and he is keen to encourage as much participation as possible from residents.
To contact Sudbury Town Council or to find out more about local services, go online to www.sudburytowncouncil.co.uk.