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Investment, new businesses, and job creation in North East Lincolnshire played a key part in the latest Leader’s speech given by Coun Philip Jackson.
He updated members at the recent full council meeting at Grimsby Town Hall.
“Much has happened since my last Leader’s statement back in March,” said Coun Jackson. “On May 5 we had the local elections. Against a difficult national backdrop, across our borough Conservative candidates polled a total of 14,070 votes, 36% more than Labour’s 10344. The voters of North East Lincolnshire clearly continue to have confidence in this Conservative administration. However, there is no room for complacency. We fought the election on a manifesto which we will continue to deliver. There are still many local challenges to address but also many opportunities which we will grasp as we move the area forward.
“Talking of opportunities, in recent weeks there have been numerous announcements about investments, new businesses, and job creation in North East Lincolnshire and I want to mention just a few of them. Orsted has secured its Government subsidy for the massive Hornsea Three offshore wind farm in the biggest ever renewables auction. The 2.85GW project will generate a further 1200 jobs in long-term operation and maintenance in Grimsby and the wider supply chain. By 2030, the company expects to have at least 800 people working out of the East Coast Hub on the Port of Grimsby, around double the current numbers, reinforcing Grimsby as the world’s largest offshore wind O&M centre.
“Then there is the exciting announcement that two sites in North East Lincolnshire have been shortlisted, out of eight in the UK, for a heavy vessels manufacturing facility for Rolls-Royce’s small modular nuclear reactor programme. This is exactly the sort of diversification we need within the local economy – high-value, specialist engineering – as well as further enhancing the area’s low carbon credentials. We continue to engage with Rolls-Royce to land this investment with assistance from the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.
“Our seafood processing sector continues to go from strength to strength, with Hilton Seafoods unveiling the first phase of a multi-million pound investment at its Grimsby plant. However, it’s not all been plain sailing for the sector. Members may be aware that a 35% tariff is likely to be imposed on the import of Russian white fish. It is right and proper that the Government sends a strong message to the Putin regime, as the people of Ukraine continue to suffer. However, the tariff does have implications for our vitally important seafood sector. We have worked extensively over the last few months with our sector colleagues and the Government to ensure that both the construct and the impact of the tariff does not have overly adverse and unintended consequences for our local economy, and that work continues.
“Staying with the seafood sector, as an integrated Port Health Authority, being able to operate a fully functioning Border Control Post is essential to support the effective flow of trade and our local economy. With the new facility at the Port of Immingham yet to come online as ABP awaits clarity from the Government, I am pleased to report that, following extensive engagement with the Government and local partners, we now operate a BCP at the Seafood Village on the Port of Grimsby. This is in no small part down to the tremendous work of our Assistant Director for Environment, Carolina Borgstrom, who played a major role behind the scenes to get this over the line within very tight timescales.
“On the subject of ports, the four local authorities around the estuary continue to work closely to support the development of the Humber Freeport. Members will be aware of the enormous potential to the Humber economy of the Freeport and, for North East Lincolnshire, the securing of £15m seed capital funding for further business investment and job creation. As the Accountable Body, we are working with the Steerco, the bid team and the Department for Levelling Up to finalise the full business case and governance arrangements. By September we will know more about a potential ‘go live’ date and members will be kept updated.
“In recent weeks and months, North East Lincolnshire in general, and Grimsby in particular has received an unprecedented level of behind-the-scenes co-ordinated Government attention. This culminated on July 4 with a visit to Grimsby by the then Secretary of State, Michael Gove, and then Levelling Up Minister Neil O’Brien. We shared with them our levelling-up ambitions, in particular our plans for Grimsby town centre. Mr Gove also hosted a summit for representatives from key private and public sector organisations to discuss local skills challenges. These challenges are national but are particularly acute in North East Lincolnshire, something we are increasingly hearing from all local employers in the private, public, and third sectors. Following a very successful visit, it was unfortunate that, within two days, neither Mr Gove nor Mr O’Brien were still in post – a result of the current Westminster machinations. Greg Clark has taken over as Secretary of State for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities. We are lucky in that Mr Clark was instrumental in the original Grimsby Town Deal and knows our patch well, and engagement is still very positive. And, of course, congratulations go to Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici for her appointment as a junior Levelling-Up minister. This can only help our cause down in Westminster.
“Moving on to the current second round of Levelling-Up Fund bidding. We have worked up three bids for submission:
*A constituency bid of £18.5m for Cleethorpes, which will incorporate schemes identified in the Cleethorpes’ Masterplan as important strategic development locations, and deliverable within the timescales. The areas of focus are Market Place, Sea Road and Pier Gardens.
*A transport-specific bid of up to £20m for the development of a transportation hub in Grimsby town centre alongside the provision of a fleet of zero emission buses and associated infrastructure. These are strong bids but, of course, the process is competitive. These bids will make real, positive change that will benefit our town centre economy in Grimsby and our local and visitor economy in Cleethorpes for years to come.
“We are also in the process of submitting to Government our plans for using our £6.2m allocation of UK Shared Prosperity Fund monies. These plans focus on the three priority areas as directed by Government: community and place; supporting local business; and people and skills. Almost £1m must be allocated to support adult numeracy interventions.
“Following Full Council’s agreement two weeks ago to purchase Freshney Place, I can report that the transaction is progressing at pace and there is an expectation of completion in the coming weeks. The icing on the cake was the announcement that the Parkway Entertainment Company are taking on the new multiplex cinema. Richard Parkes and his staff are very excited about this opportunity and Richard’s enthusiasm about the wider scheme to repurpose the western end of Freshney Place is infectious.
“Devolution is also a key strand of Government’s levelling-up agenda and the ambition for a devolution deal across the Greater Lincolnshire footprint remains strong. I am engaged with fellow Lincolnshire council leaders in drafting a vision document to shape the asks and powers we would seek from the Government and, in due course, this council will be formally engaged in the process and the debate. Meanwhile, we continue to extend collaboration across Greater Lincolnshire, most recently sharing a large exhibition space at last month’s Lincolnshire Show under the strapline ‘One Lincolnshire Think Bigger’. Greater Lincolnshire LEP have recently completed a programme of consultation meetings with business across the County to gather views about their devolution expectations. A report is currently being compiled.
“The new Health and Care Act is now in force, with Integrated Care Boards replacing Clinical Commissioning Groups from July 1. To remind members, we are part of the Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care System, along with five other upper tier local authority areas. Councillor Stan Shreeve will be the representative of the south bank on the Integrated Care Board. An Integrated Care Partnership for Humber and North Yorkshire will also be formed as the main forum for bringing the NHS and local authorities together at regional level. This is work in progress with detail yet to emerge. Our place-based arrangements will continue to evolve as we understand more about the wider development and focus of the Integrated Care Board.
“Moving now to children’s social services, Since the Ofsted inspection, Children’s Services has developed and is implementing the actions outlined within the Improvement Plan. Lincolnshire County Council continues to assist us as our Sector Led Improvement Partner, and we have been working with them to embed some of the changes needed to bring about the improvements. To be clear, there remains a long way to go.
“Workforce retention and stability in children’s social care remains a significant challenge and one not unique to this Council. I am pleased to report that we have recently been successful in the work we have undertaken with overseas recruitment with an offer of employment to 33 social workers who, if they accept, will be able to start with us by October. We continue to work with the Commissioner and the Improvement Board. I also want to reinforce the importance of the Children’s Services Oversight Group, which will continue to meet and consider key issues.
“A key recommendation in the first Commissioner’s report was that an options appraisal be undertaken with a view to this council entering a strategic partnership with another local authority. The Department for Education has appointed consultants to undertake that work over the coming weeks.
“There is no doubt that the cost of living is becoming a major issue for many of our residents. All households that pay council tax by Direct Debit, about 60%, were paid their £150 energy rebate in May. All other households have received a letter asking them to provide bank details via a safe and secure online portal to enable payment to be made. As of today, 91% of eligible households have been paid. This is approximately 61,000 payments, totalling £9.2 million. The council has also received discretionary funding of £375,000, which has been incorporated into our existing Household Support Fund Scheme. While it has been a very challenging project, progress has been good thanks to good collaborative working across the council. As an administration, we are exploring what scope there may be for other targeted local support, though clearly our resources are limited.
“When we had the debate about the dreadful situation in Ukraine earlier this year, I did promise to keep the council updated. As of today, 49 Ukrainian guests have arrived at 26 properties. There are three imminent arrivals, with 25 more expected in due course. There are no unaccompanied minors. We have appointed two people, externally funded, to provide support to refugees and asylum seekers, including Ukrainians, until January, one of whom is a guest under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Thank-you to everyone locally who is supporting the scheme in any way.
“In the last week we have delivered two very effective and high-profile enforcement days in collaboration with the police and other partners. The first was in Grimsby town centre and the second was out on the roads of the borough. Both resulted in numerous cautions and fines being imposed on those breaching regulations. This is a clear demonstration of this administration’s determination to tackle the ‘anything goes’ culture among a small but significant minority who spoil things for the law-abiding majority. The reaction from the public was very positive and no doubt it will act as a deterrent to those who don’t think the rules apply to them.
“I now want to move to a subject I don’t usually cover in my statement: sport. Firstly, it seems a while ago now, but congratulations to the Mariners on their promotion and it was a pleasure to hold a civic reception for them here in this magnificent building. We know how important our football club is to the local community and I’m sure we all wish the Mariners good luck for the forthcoming season. Secondly, as I speak, the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham is taking place. Grimsby lad Zac Shaw is competing in those games and I’m sure we would want to wish him all the best.”