The Artful Codger: A good KLIC for King’s Lynn’s future

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It looks like things are finally clicking into place to give Lynn a much-needed business boost and send out a clear message that the town is looking to the future.

The announcement that a £4m business centre, which aims to attract and keep entrepreneurs in West Norfolk, could be up and running by the end of 2015, will come as a huge relief to those of us who had been wondering if Lynn was being left behind while hi-tech developments surged on elsewhere in the region.

The King’s Lynn Innovation Centre (KLIC) is the result of ten years of work put in by West Norfolk Council and the Norfolk and Waveney Enterprise Service (Nwes).

The centre is due to be built on the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area and will offer offices and other services to help fledgling businesses get off the ground. It is hoped the building will provide offices and meeting rooms for 150-200 people and Nwes will be linking KLIC to its 23 other centres across the country.

The four-storey building will be visible from the A47, and presumably also from our rail line, helping to promote the image of Lynn as a forward-thinking community.

Welcome as it is, the only pity is that it could not have come sooner, for other towns are already on the march. Downham, for instance, is already in the throes of preparing for the building of a science and technology centre of excellence at the former airfield at Bexwell Road, a project which is claimed will bring 4,000 high quality jobs to the area.

Attracting quality jobs is surely the key to the future for all of us who want to see West Norfolk prosper. How many of us have seen our children go off to universities and gain top-quality qualifications, then start careers elsewhere, rather than return to the area of their birth?

It would be great if Lynn could establish a place in the hi-tech market, taking advantage of our proximity to the country’s technology hot-spot, Cambridge, which simply soars from one giddy height to another, with major new developments being announced seemingly on a daily basis.

Now that Downham is preparing to jump aboard the technology bandwagon, let’s see Lynn get in on the act and help develop a Fenland Silicon Corridor along the rail line from Lynn to Cambridge.

Looking west from Lynn towards Peterborough, and then east towards Norwich, it is hard to see much of a prospect for us in either of those directions unless there is a major improvement to the A47 in the very near future (and I mean very near, say a couple of years).

After all, the politicians have been stringing us along with empty promises regarding the A47 for too long. I will only start to believe them when the earth-moving machines begin to rumble on site.

That leaves our only hope of any progress in the immediate future resting on our rail link to the south, which actually has dates in place for improvements, and detailed plans from the new operators for much better services in the next year or so.

Let’s hope KLIC is the beacon that lights the way to the kind of future we would like to expect, both for ourselves, our children and their children too.