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Are you a two, a five or an eight?

February 22, 2021 10:36 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

ppde (By Tr00st This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

Let me be clear from the start, there is no best answer. We are not talking about strength, looks, speed, weight, intelligence. It is risk and your aversity to it. If you were talking to your financial adviser, he may say that putting your savings in a current bank account is the equivalent of a two - very risk averse. A five may be low risk equities or bonds and an eight a more adventurous managed fund where you are looking for a high return but are prepared to accept that there may be losses. Easy to understand when considering your personal finances but what about in regenerating a town centre.

You are investing public money so there is bound to be an element of caution and a belief that what has worked well in the past will work well again in the future. That is taking the 'five' approach. But what if in the post CoVid world there isn't a 'five' and the choice is only between 'two' and 'eight'.

Town centres were in decline before the virus hit and we were all forced to avoid them. Online shopping has become the new norm - order today receive tomorrow. Many non-food retail outlets - and almost all of the large ones - have closed with a resulting loss of many jobs. The 'attraction' of the town centre as a place to visit has never been lower. For Sudbury this comes on top of the closure of a number of key employers - Delphi, Philips Avent, Vanners, Winch & Blatch, Prolog and others.

Given this scenario do you adopt a 'two' or an 'eight' approach to investment opportunities that may arise in Sudbury Town Centre? A decision of this nature will be made by Babergh District Council Cabinet on 11th March when they decide what offer they will accept for the Belle Vue House site. This is the same cabinet that was keen to see a hotel and restaurant built on the old swimming pool site.

So, the 'two offer' will presumably be some form of retirement or care home - possibly after the demolition of Belle Vue House - with a new entrance to the park and a new café and toilets. The question is, will this really make a difference to Sudbury town centre as an attraction? Of course, it will improve it but isn't the impact a little like being on par with taking money from your current account and putting it into a savings account which pays 0.01% interest.

Is the '8 alternative' any more likely to deliver a rosy future for Sudbury? Some phrases come to mind - "in for a penny in for a pound", "nothing ventured nothing gained", "if you keep doing the same thing, don't expect the outcome to be any different", etc. So, what does it take to get to an 'eight'?

I am definitely supporting the 'eight' approach ……….. but then again it isn't my money.