Skiing into corridors of power

WITHIN earshot of the corridors of power, Suffolk's SnOasis dream has today been trumpeted among the great and good following a successful London launch.

WITHIN earshot of the corridors of power, Suffolk's SnOasis dream has today been trumpeted among the great and good following a successful London launch.

More than 120 dignitaries attended last night's Westminster gathering as momentum behind the £320million project gathers pace.

With an application for the Great Blakenham winter sports resort likely to be heard in September, attention is now focused on building support for the bid.

Various organisations have already pledged their backing, including the British Olympic Association and Snowsport GB.

Former British Olympic Skier Graham Bell, of Snowsport GB, said the facility would be a much-needed boost to country's skiing prospects.

He said: "SnOasis will provide an opportunity for youngsters to take up the sport and will make us more competitive as a nation in winter sports.

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"We need skiing heroes to represent Great Britain on the Olympic and world stage. We need to be targeting them between the age of five and ten and SnOasis will help do that."

Suffolk MPs Sir Michael Lord and Chris Mole were among those at last night's launch, held at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Representatives of financial institutions, sports bodies, media outlets and various Suffolk groups and organisations were also in attendance.

The night featured an exhibition of the plans and presentations given by developer Godfrey Spanner and former skier Konrad Bartelski.

Sir Michael Lord said: "I think it's an interesting and exciting project, which could bring great benefits to both our spot of Suffolk and the whole region.

"I've been following the matter very closely from the beginning. Most people I've spoken to have been very supportive, although there are some concerns surrounding traffic for example."

Mr Mole added: "I see Snoasis as a real opportunity for Ipswich. It will bring a lot of visitors to the area and provide a lot of jobs.

"I think it's got broad support, although people will be sceptical about it until they see bricks and mortar on the ground."

David Lowe, director of EWS Chartered Surveyors, in Falcon Street, Ipswich, has been working on the project ever acting as an agent in the sale of the 350-acre site to Mr Spanner nearly four years ago.

He said: "Having sold the site and worked with Godfrey Spanner to get to the point where there's the makings of an exciting and spectacular scheme, I really hope the project does capture the imagination of the people of Suffolk and the proposal is supported.

"This event has been attended by some of the top people in the ski industry and a strong cross-section of the Suffolk community."

Mr Spanner, managing director of Onslow Suffolk Ltd, added: "I think everyone is with us. We had more than 2,500 people to our exhibition in Claydon and Great Blakenham and 98 per cent of the comments were positive. We just want to get on with it now."

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