Record funding for regeneration in borough

Record funding for regeneration in borough

“Under this Conservative administration, we are in receipt of record grant-funding for regeneration projects, clearly demonstrating the Government’s confidence in us.” 

The Leader of the Council, Coun Philip Jackson, highlighted a raft of projects, initiatives and improvements happening in North East Lincolnshire during his speech to the latest meeting of the Full Council.

Addressing the chamber at Grimsby Town Hall, he said: “So many positive things are currently happening within North East Lincolnshire around regeneration, the local economy, business and jobs, service improvements, and progress with delivery against strategies and plans that I can only talk about the highlights tonight.

“Before I do that, let me address head-on one particular matter – the independent Nurseries Consultation Review Report.  All members have received a copy, and it has been considered by Scrutiny. This report vindicates my decision, as Leader of the Council, to halt what was clearly a flawed public consultation. I subsequently requested the Chief Executive to commission the report to determine how this unnecessary and damaging situation arose, and how we can ensure it is never repeated.

“It is clear from the report that council officers failed to adequately communicate with both the Cabinet and ward councillors regarding the challenges associated with the three nursery settings, and the proposed course of action and did not comply with normal governance processes. These issues must and are being addressed but, more importantly, while some focus their energies on political posturing, the Cabinet and officers are now working closely with the three settings to try to ensure their ongoing viability and sustainability so they can continue to serve parents and children within their communities.

“On a more positive note, for the first time in many years, we now have a team of permanent Service Directors and Deputy Directors in Children’s Services to support our new Director of Children’s Services, who joined us last December. Having a permanent leadership team in children’s services, particularly in children’s social care, is something that we haven’t had for several years and provides much-needed stability. We are now finding it much easier to recruit permanent social workers, which is so important for providing stability and continuity to children and families.

“Another positive is the safe reduction in our numbers of looked-after children – down from a peak of 629 in September 2022 to 476 as of March 14 – a reduction of 24%. The number of looked-after children in externally funded provision has reduced from a peak of 283 in November 2022 to 203, a very welcome reduction of 28%. While we are clearly now on the right road with Children’s Services, we recognise that there is still a long way to travel.

“While on the subject of a better future for our young people, the new Youth Zone, named Horizon by local young people, is a step closer to becoming a reality as work at the Garth Lane site continues to gather pace. I visited the site a couple of weeks ago to view the progress. Members may well have noticed the steelwork being erected for the new sports hall. Expected to open in 2025, the state-of-the-art youth centre will provide thousands of young people with opportunities to engage in activities and access support from skilled youth workers, helping them to develop their skills and reach their full potential. It will be open to young people aged between eight and 19 (up to 25 for those with additional needs), seven days a week, for just 50p a visit. Members will have access to an indoor climbing wall, a four-court sports hall, training kitchen, music room with a recording studio, a fully-equipped gym, a dance and drama studio, a 3G kick pitch, an arts and crafts room, and an enterprise and employability suite.

“Also in Grimsby town centre, work has begun on the NHS Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) within Freshney Place. This will occupy five retail units – that’s more than 18,000 sq.ft of space – and it is expected to open in the summer. The acility will provide the local community with better access to NHS services through its central location, providing a range of non-urgent test facilities, including non-obstetric ultrasounds, electrocardiograms, and X-rays. It is aimed to provide 150,000 additional health checks a year and will remove the need to attend acute hospital sites. The addition of the CDC to Freshney Place emphasises the aspiration of the council to create a mixed-use destination for the community, combining retail and leisure with services within central Grimsby, increasing footfall and boosting the town centre economy.

“Preparation work continues on the cinema and leisure scheme at the western end of Freshney Place, as well as on the conversion of St James House into a business and conference centre, all adding to the diverse offer in the town centre. Work on Riverhead Square is also resuming.

“Grimsby is one of 55 town centres around the country that were allocated ‘Long-Term Plan’ money from the Government to help transform it into a central hub for people and families to visit and enjoy. The £20-million scheme, with money to be spent over the next 10 years, will look at tackling issues like anti-social behaviour, graffiti, and other issues that, once addressed, will help people feel and be safe when visiting the town centre. The Government has also announced that Grimsby has been nominated as one of 10 towns to take part in a High Street Accelerator pilot scheme to help improve the town’s future. We have been invited to take part in a pilot programme to build on the work of the Town Centre Task Force, which has been meeting regularly over the last six months, to agree a long-term vision for the town centre, and we have been given an allocation of £237,000 to put initial interventions in place.

“Turning now to regeneration in Cleethorpes on the back of the Cleethorpes Masterplan and £18.4-million of Levelling Up funding. We should be able shortly to announce who will be leasing the new landmark Sea Road building, which already has planning consent, with construction commencing later in the year. Public consultation has now started on the refurbishment proposals for Pier Gardens and Cleethorpes Market Place, with very positive engagement.

“There have been several announcements about business and industrial investments. Good news for Stallingborough and Immingham, with the announcement that DFDS, which employs more than 1000 people on the Humber, has taken the first steps in creating a new combined commercial office by purchasing seven acres of land on Pioneer Business Park. The plan will create a modern and sustainable building to consolidate several of DFDS’s current office-based colleagues from various sites within the Humber into one collaborative and central location. This comes on the back of the recent sale of land at Pioneer Business Park to Associated British Ports to accelerate the development of the site.

“Further signs that the local economy is booming are the most recent Office for National Statistics published earnings figures, using data from the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings. These show that, for 2023, the average gross weekly earnings in North East Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and the Humber, and England as a whole, are £663, £632, and £683 respectively. For the first time in many years, earnings in North East Lincolnshire are higher than in Yorkshire and the Humber and are 97% of the England average. All good news for our families and the local economy.

“The most exciting announcement must be the awarding of almost £120-million of Local Transport Fund monies to North East Lincolnshire to bring transformational change to transport within the borough. This is our share of the money released from the scrapping of the northern leg of HS2, a project I never supported, and which would have brought little or no benefit to our borough. Funding will be available from April 2025 and provided on a yearly programme until 2032, with a £20-million limit on individual projects. Cabinet has approved the start of a planning journey which will see a mapping out of how these significant monies will be invested. However, at the top of our priority list will be a new transport hub – bus station – in Grimsby town centre, for which we have already acquired the land. This will give a major boost to public transport, encouraging more people to use buses and improving connectivity.

“Continuing on the theme of public transport, the Department for Transport has permitted North East Lincolnshire Council to use Bus Service Improvement grant monies to allow once again those with bus passes to travel free on our buses before 9.30am. We are currently in discussions with Stagecoach as to how this will be implemented. It is many years since this concession was withdrawn and it is a Conservative administration restoring it. It will encourage greater bus patronage and more people into the town centre, especially once the new Community Diagnostic Centre opens.

“Turning now to waste and recycling. Following a big increase in recycling rates following this administration’s introduction of the new recycling bins and on the back of a successful food waste collection pilot, North East Lincolnshire Council has received £1.2-million from the Government to help implement separate collections of food waste for recycling throughout the whole borough.  The funding is to be used for procuring the bins and caddies, and the vehicles to help collect them.  We are currently assessing how the scheme will operate, with a view to providing an update in the autumn and implementation by April 2026.

“Under this Conservative administration, we are in receipt of record grant-funding for regeneration projects, clearly demonstrating the Government’s confidence in us. We are implementing improvements to services and public transport. We are seeing major investments from a whole range of private sector companies, bringing new jobs to the area, and a more buoyant economy with improved wage rates improving the lives of our residents.”

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