The newly-elected mayor of Diss says the next year could be one of the biggest in the town’s history.
Julian Mason, 67, who runs the Larter and Ford hardware store in the town, was elected to the role last Wednesday. His deputy will be Mike Bardwell, a former mayor himself.
“I am honoured,” said Mr Mason. “It was something when I was co-opted to the council five or six years ago I never considered I thought I would be doing.”
The upcoming year will see work start on the £3 million Heritage Triangle Project, set to be completed by the late summer or early autumn of 2016.
The aim of the project is to bring a ‘new life to the town’, with improvements including restoring and improving Diss Corn Hall, regeneration of the Heritage Triangle, and a new Mere boardwalk and gardens.
“The Heritage Triangle is a massive project for the town, and the Corn Hall has become a focal point for the area in recent years,” said Mr Mason, who formerly served as chairman of the amenities and properties committee, as well as vice chairman on the highways committee.
“The Heritage Triangle will enhance the town and make it a more vibrant centre for the area.”
Mr Mason said he would not reveal what he wanted to achieve before meeting with fellow councillors, but he did say he intended on getting involved “with other projects in the town”, while the traffic issues on the busy A1066 Victoria Road were still on the agenda of the highways committee, although they would need to work with Norfolk County Council’s highways team, who are ultimately responsible.
He also praised outgoing mayor Keith Kiddie.
“I think he did a terrific job,” he explained. “He has offered me any assistance I need to fulfil the role.
“At the council we have the opportunity to move forward. We have five new councillors and it is not a bad thing to have some new blood on a council, and it is good for the town.
“It is something we should embrace, and give them the opportunity to bring their views forward.”
Mr Mason, a Lord Road resident, was born in Stradbroke, north Suffolk, and for many years worked as a production engineer at Hamlin Electronics, which was based at the current Thatcher’s Needle site in the town.
He then took on a part-time role at Larter and Ford, on Market Hill. When the business was put up for sale, he and his brother-in-law made an offer, and will celebrate their two-year anniversary at the helm at the end of June. He has two daughters, one living in Diss and another in Tivetshall, two grandchildren, as well as a sister in the town, and a brother who resides in Felixstowe.
But how would he describe the town he has lived in for many a year?
“I would say Diss is a friendly, growing, market town which is vibrant, but with the developments that are going on, the town has the ability to grow still further,” he said. “I think Diss has always embraced change and over the last ten years has become a growing, thriving town.”
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