‘Critical’ time for town’s future, says Beccles mayor

Hugh Taylor, Beccles Town Mayor.

Hugh Taylor, Beccles Town Mayor. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The coming six months are going to be a “critical” time for a Suffolk town in terms of potential funding as county and district councils plan where to make cutbacks.

That was the message from Beccles mayor Hugh Taylor and deputy mayor Graham Catchpole as they reviewed the past six months and looked ahead to what the second half of the term in office had in store.

Mr Catchpole, who is chairman of the assets and environment committee on the town council, as well as being district councillor for Beccles South for Waveney District Council, said: “The next six months is quite critical for the town because of what is happening at district and county level and budget cutbacks – they’re desperately trying to save millions of pounds.

“They have already saved millions but need to save more, so in the next three months they have to decide where they are going to save this money.”

He said the town council would be examining what impact this could have on Beccles.

“There will be decisions made that could affect the town and particularly services that are provided to the town by district and county - we do know there are still more cuts to come.”

Mr Taylor said it was important that the town looked to itself to see how best to compensate for any potential cutbacks.

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“We need to understand what we have to be prepared for it and understand where the gaps are going to be in the provision of services for this town,” he said.

“We will have a better idea at the beginning of next year and then we will look at our options.

“We have to face up to a reality that things are going to change. It’s very much a turning point.”

Mr Taylor said it was important that the town, district and county councils continue to work together, with other organisations such as the Broads Authority in the interests of the town.

One of the examples where this has happened has been with the introduction of the town’s 20mph zone and the potential for its extension to other roads in Beccles.

The mayor said: “Following on from this will be the arrival in the coming months of two mobile vehicle activated signs - one paid for by county, one by the town.”

The signs will be used in up to six locations and moved around every two months.

Another area which encompasses all three councils is the proposed southern relief road.

Mr Catchpole said: “At the moment, 80 to 100-plus lorries come through the centre every day – this would help get the lorries out of the town centre.”

The mayor and deputy also spoke about some of the many positive things to happen in the town in the past six months, including the establishment of a skate park community with the hope of raising funds for a new safe, fun, concrete skate park on the site of the current one in Common Lane.

Mr Taylor said: “At the heart of this is the fact that this is a community group and they have decided what they want.

“We are supporting the group as they set about raising the £100,000 needed for the park, and also support them as they apply for grants and other forms of funding.”

My Taylor encouraged people from the town to come along to the council meetings “tell us what they think about things and how we can help”.

Do you have a story for Beccles? Email lynn.crombie@archant.co.uk or call 01502 712060 to speak to a reporter.