Lynn needs to maintain consistent public activity if it is to maintain its reputation as a good place for business, according to West Norfolk Council’s leader.
The comments came after plams to set aside £150,000 for the staging of events in the town centre were revealed in the authority’s financial plan for the coming financial year.
Nick Daubney told Thursday’s full council meeting that the emphasis of the council’s approach had changed from previous years when it had put money towards discounted car parking promotions.
He said that, while Lynn had fared well during the recession, business advisors said “constant activity” was needed so that visitors could be certain there would be something happening in the town centre no matter when they visit.
Figures released last week showed that shopping visitor numbers reached record levels in the town centre before Christmas, with 41,000 people recorded as visiting the town on the final Saturday before the festive period alone.
Mr Daubney said those figures were “accelerating strongly”, but added: “We want to encourage more and more activity and footfall in the town centre.
“All our business advice is the more general activity you have in a town, the more vibrant that town will remain.”
A host of events are already planned to take place in Lynn during 2015, starting with a light festival in March and including celebrations of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in June, plus a freedom parade for Lynn’s air cadets in July.
The programme also includes the Hanse festival in May, which will also coincide with a major business conference at the Hanse House.
Responding to a question from Labour’s Andy Tyler, Mr Daubney said that, while the cultural benefits of Hanseatic links had been enjoyed in recent years, it was also felt that there were “big opportunities”, which could be developed further.
He said that more than 100 firms across northern Europe are already members of the Hanse business network, including 10 in West Norfolk.
“They’re seeing benefit in being part of this network.”
The meeting was also told that officials behind Lynn’s Business Improvement District (BID) proposal were looking at reviving the idea, despite it being rejected in a referendum last April.
Independent Mike Tilbury said he was concerned the idea, which requires a majority of both traders and the total business rates paid, could meet a similar fate again, citing low attendance among business people at a recent meeting of the Lynn Town Centre Partnership.
But Mr Daubney said: “I think a lot of town traders are keen to look at this again.”