Full Council: Leader’s speech

Full Council: Leader’s speech

“Although it’s only two months since my last Leader’s Statement, there is much to report,” Coun Philip Jackson, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, told the chamber at Grimsby Town Hall at the most recent meeting of Full Council.

“Today (September 28) we hosted a visit to the borough by Peter Freeman, the chairman of Homes England and some of his colleagues. We have developed an effective working relationship with Homes England, the executive agency of government with national responsibility for supporting and investing in regeneration led housing and infrastructure development. Homes England is engaged with us regarding our ambition for aspirational brownfield housing in Grimsby town centre and Alexandra Dock in particular. This strategic relationship is vitally important, and we will continue to strengthen it. It is reflective of the strong relationships we continue to enjoy with Government and Government agencies.

“Remaining with housing, the public consultation on the refresh of the NEL Housing Strategy has opened today. The future of housing in North East Lincolnshire and the challenges that must be overcome to ensure every person in the borough has access to good and affordable homes are highlighted. Taking a detailed look at accommodation across the area, it also provides an analysis of the area’s demographics, where the specific housing gaps are and the way in which those in need should and could be best supported to live independent lives. Once the Strategy is finalised, it will play into the review of NEL’s Local Development Plan, which is also currently underway.

“Turning now to our children and young people.  Strengthening our children’s services leadership arrangements is key to delivering sustained improvement and positive, lasting change. Members of the Appointments Committee were unanimous in their support for the appointment of Ann Marie Matson to the critically important role of director of Children’s Services – an individual with a strong and highly respected leadership and delivery track record, who is joining us from a local authority that is currently outstanding for children’s services.  This is an important milestone, and I am sure that all members will welcome our new DCS when she joins us in December.

“Our local Family Hubs are set to reopen in the next six months offering vital services to children and families in North East Lincolnshire. The hubs, which have been open in a reduced way since the Covid-19 pandemic, will benefit from funding from the Government’s Start for Life and Family Hubs Programme.  The council is one of 75 local authorities that have been chosen to pilot this programme. It aims to make a positive difference to, parents, soon to be parents, carers, and their children by joining-up services, making them easier to access and being seen as a ‘one stop shop’ for support.  Immingham was the first Family Hub to reopen last weekend.

“Turning now to regeneration initiatives, of which there are currently so many across the borough. Detailed plans have been submitted to transform Grimsby’s iconic Ice Factory into a huge office, studio, research, and events space. This Grade II-listed building has been an eyesore visible from one of the main arterial routes into the borough for many years. Entrepreneur and developer Tom Shutes, who acquired the derelict building from Associated British Ports in 2021, has submitted the ambitious plans for the building which once housed the largest ice-making machinery and produced up to 1500 tonnes of ice every day.  If approved, the Ice Factory will be transformed into a multi-purpose building, with offices, studios and research and development space for the green maritime sector, as well as a leading exhibition, conference, and live performance venue with a 1000-seat capacity. It will also include leisure and food and beverage space with car, coach, and cycle parking facilities. This proposed development sits alongside ABP’s ambitious plans for the regeneration of the historic buildings in the Kasbah area of the port and will help to ensure that the Port of Grimsby is a thriving part of the local economy for many years to come. The submission of the plans for the Ice Factory comes one month after plans were also submitted for a 161-room, five-storey hotel to be built next to it, providing a hospitality facility for people attending conferences and events at the Ice Factory, as well as providing much needed hotel accommodation for the offshore wind sector based in the port.

“Still in the Port of Grimsby, RWE Renewables UK has announced multi-million pound expansion plans for its Royal Dock base, due to complete next year. The significantly enhanced state-of-the-art operations and maintenance facility will play a national role.  RWE is already operating the Humber Gateway and Triton Knoll wind farms from Grimsby, with construction of Sofia underway and two further Dogger Bank sites under development. Once complete, the Grimsby Hub will host RWE’s Centralised Control Room, where technicians will oversee the operation of the vast majority of the company’s UK offshore portfolio, further reaffirming the Humber’s role as a leading location for the sector and generating many new jobs in NEL.

“Today, CATCH announced ambitious plans for the development of a £60 million state-of-the-art training facility, to reach a training goal of 1000 apprentices a year by 2029, at its Stallingborough headquarters, with the intent of tackling the engineering construction skill shortages anticipated in the Humber cluster and across the UK.  In anticipation of a series of Net Zero projects set to commence from 2024 and beyond, a significant demand for skilled labour is on the horizon. 

“These projects are expected to generate 20,000 new industrial jobs, necessitating an unprecedented, rapid upscaling of the existing skills pipelines.  The expansion plans have funding support from key industrial sponsors, and CATCH members, Phillips 66 Limited, Harbour Energy, and VPI Power.  Developing towards a future final investment decision, CATCH plans to continue to build broad support across industry and government for this new national net zero training centre.  This is clearly a very exciting development for North East Lincolnshire.

“Remaining with skills, Cabinet last month approved a Skills Acton Plan for North East Lincolnshire. The plan, which identifies some of the key challenges facing people in our area, looks to identify and take advantage of opportunities to improve the awareness of high-skilled careers and the educational attainment of adults. In North East Lincolnshire, 73.2% of people are economically active, which means they are either employed or actively seeking work, slightly lower than the national average. The rate of adults claiming universal credit is almost double the national figure. At the same time, employers in the area are struggled to recruit people with the right skills for the jobs that they have available. This is particularly alarming in the context of future growth of the area, with the energy industry alone expected to create more than 32,000 jobs by 2040 across the Humber, a further 7000 jobs expected to be created by the now operational Humber Freeport, and an ambition to deliver some 11,000 jobs by 2030 as part of the UK’s Food Valley across greater Lincolnshire. This afternoon, I opened a workshop for local representatives the education a business sectors to discuss how they can best collaborate to help deliver the new Skills Strategy.

“While on the subject of opportunity and skills, the Projekt Renewable container park will open on the Alexandra Dock next month. After two years and £300,000 funding from sponsors myenergi, RWE Renewables UK and the Town Deal, this will present a very different silhouette on Grimsby’s familiar Alexandra Dock.  Uniting the area’s future and past, situated next to an icon of Grimsby’s history – the Fishing Heritage Centre – and run largely on solar power, the arrival of this ground-breaking scheme promises not only to celebrate the opportunities presented by sustainable energy production in the area but act as a catalyst for bridging the gap between the industry and the local community, showcasing exactly how versatile, accessible, and promising renewables are, for everyone. 

“Projekt Renewable will be an aspirational beacon for Grimsby and beyond, especially for children and young people, showcasing the opportunities available in this exciting new area of the local economy. With the potential to extend and evolve, to suit the demands of both the local community and the renewables firms operating within the area, Projekt will further solidify North East Lincolnshire as a thriving renewables hub.

“Last week I attended the launch event of the Grimsby Town Centre 2025 Group, consisting of representatives from the retail and other businesses. They have secured funding for an 18-month project to help the town centre become a vibrant place, encouraging local businesses and communities to ‘be part of the positive’, with a view to improving civic pride and addressing negative perceptions about the town.  This very upbeat event included presentations from businesses investing heavily in the town centre, such as the Horizon Onside YouthZone, Parkway Cinema, and the NHS Community Diagnostic Centre, and emphasised the positive changes which will be delivered in Grimsby town centre over the next two years.

“However, antisocial behaviour and crime remain an area of concern in the town centre, whether it be genuine or perceived. This deters some people from coming into town and must be tackled if we want to see a continued increase in footfall. The problem has received much scrutiny from both Humberside Police and NELC engagement and enforcement teams, both reactive and proactive.  Problems include some young people congregating in intimidating groups, street drinkers causing public disorder, aggressive begging, cycling in pedestrianised areas and vandalism and graffiti. Currently, there is nowhere for the young people to go, and the Horizon YouthZone is 18 months away from opening.

“To address these concerns, a multi-agency project has been developed, with five interventions all dovetailing to create a community safety plan to minimise the threat of crime and disorder in the town centre.  The value of the project is £330k over 18 months with over 80% being funded through the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside. The interventions include:

  • A youth hub on Osbourne Street to divert young people away from causing ASB and crime.
  • Improved business security by enhancing the Grimsby Retail in Partnership (GRIP) programme to include licenced premises.
  • Enhancing the street scene and improve the perception of the town centre as a safe place free of crime and disorder.
  • Enhancing the night time street scene in support of the Night Time Economy and Violence Against Women and Girls agenda.
  • Improving the visible aesthetics of the town centre area by removing graffiti and working with graffiti artists to provide a safe place for them to tag.

“It is important that we tackle these ‘soft’ issues, as well as physically transforming the buildings and environment in the town centre.

“On the subject of law and order, North East Lincolnshire Council and Humberside Police are intending to vary three Public Space Protection Orders.  A public consultation is seeking the views on how the PSPOs can address the anti-social behaviour that is connected to the consumption of alcohol in Grimsby Town Centre, Peoples Park and Cleethorpes Town Centre and seafront.

“Also, a new initiative launched by the Home Office and Humberside Police aims to clear a Grimsby estate of crime. Clear, Hold, Build has seen an increase in officers aiming to eradicate organised crime from certain hotspots in different areas.  In North East Lincolnshire, police are focusing on the Nunsthorpe estate.  In other areas where Clear, Hold, Build has been implemented, there has been a positive impact with drug offences, anti-social behaviour and burglaries reducing significantly.

“Turning now to Cleethorpes, a new landmark building set to be created in the heart of Cleethorpes has been revealed. A three-storey building will be constructed at the former Waves site on the corner of Sea Road and the Promenade, comprising of state-of-the-art public amenities and changing facilities, as well as commercially lettable space across all floors of the building, which may include different providers in retail and hospitality. A planning application was approved in 2020 but work on the scheme was delayed due to the pandemic and lack of funding.  The latter was addressed when we received £18.4 million of LUF earlier this year for three Cleethorpes Masterplan projects. 

“The building is now proposed to include a pagoda on the first floor to enable outdoor seating area, and additional information has been included in the amended planning application about the configuration of the doors and windows, and the materials proposed to be used on the building. Earlier this year, on site preparatory works were undertaken. In the coming weeks, more information will be released about the site along with the neighbouring Pier Gardens and Market Place as those developments move forward.

“Last week, Natural England launched a new National Nature Reserve on the Greater Lincolnshire coast which marks the first in the new King’s Series of National Nature Reserves committed to enhancing biodiversity and nature recovery while connecting people with nature. The Lincolnshire Coronation Coast National Nature Reserve covers 33 square kilometres along almost 30km of the Greater Lincolnshire coast containing a rich variety of sand dunes, salt marshes, mudflats and freshwater marshes which are of international importance. 

“With its sand dunes and salt marsh, our Cleethorpes coastline is an internationally important landscape for wildlife. This is a first for North East Lincolnshire and the new National Nature Reserve provides an excellent opportunity for Cleethorpes to attract more visitors throughout the year and connect with nature.

“Brand-new funding opportunities were released to the local creative sector at the launch of Create North East Lincolnshire earlier this week. Building on the success of Grimsby Creates over the last three years, and following a successful bid to the Arts Council England, the work has been expanded to cover the whole of North East Lincolnshire for the next three years under the banner of Create North East Lincolnshire. The team that has helped facilitate a new lease of creative energy in the borough will be staying the same, working to deliver our Creativity Strategy for North East Lincolnshire. Three brand new funding pots have been launched – two that support new commissions and one that supports creatives in the borough to build on their development. The funding pots will focus on three strands from the Creativity Strategy: Children and Young People, Green and Sustainable, and Digital. The scheme will be funded from the Place Partnership Fund; NELC successfully bid for £450,000 in June this year.

“I turn now to devolution. Negotiations are well advanced with Government around a Greater Lincolnshire devolution deal. The focus is on devolved powers and funding as well as governance arrangements.”

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