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King's Lynn grant bid flop 'bitterly disappointing'

There was unhappiness reflected all round at the failure of Lynn's bid for £21 million from the Government's Future High Street Funds initiative when it was discussed at yesterday's full meeting of West Norfolk Council.

The meeting, held online on Zoom, heard Graham Middleton, cabinet member for business development, declared himself "extremely disappointed" with the failure to secure its share of the £675 million pot.

In his portfolio report to members he said that there had been "a very extensive consultation with 500 people" through the Vision King's Lynn survey.

King's Lynn library (44068874)
King's Lynn library (44068874)

He thought that the engagement with businesses would stand the council in good stead for further bids in the future for grants.

But Independent councillor Alexandra Kemp said she felt there had not been good enough consultation with the community, which was reflected by only 500 people out of 40,000 taking part in the consultation.

She said the views of South Lynn had not been asked at all and referring to a plan to move the library into the former Argos building in the town centre said it included "our lovely Carnegie library being moved an old car park structure in the town centre ... these were not good projects".

She would like to have seen more ambition with transport links, even a steam train, out from Saddebow into the town centre. "I'm really concerned about the lack of vision," she said.

Fellow Independent councillor Tom Ryves' suggestion that the failure of the bid showed the council "failed to engage" was rebutted by leader Brian Long who dismissed his suggestion that what the town needed was a casino and said: "The supposition is that there was something wrong with it. Some bids were successful, some are not successful. It is not down to the quality of the bid."

Independent councillor Joanne Rust said that there had been no attempt to discuss the bid with the King's Lynn Advisory Board.

But Mr Long said thatthe borough had been complemented in the feedback on the bid about its community consultation, it had been the financial case that had fallen short.

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