Report to follow.
Cabinet welcomed the opportunity provided to Thanet by Central Government as a Priority 1 area for the recently announced Levelling Up Fund. The priority for the Levelling Up Fund was to focus resources on areas of deprivation in education and skills, employment, productivity, and to those areas that would need support for economic growth and recovery following the impact of the pandemic. Thanet had some significant hotspots in the district where levelling up, as set out by central government, was needed. Two thirds of the most deprived Lower Super Output Areas were in Margate, and a successful offer from the Ministry of House, Communities and Local Government for the Town Deal would support the Town’s levelling up requirement. The other third were in Ramsgate and significant government investment was required to help drive regeneration and job growth.
Members noted that the submission of a bid to the Levelling Up Fund would complement other opportunities that are available to Thanet such as the successful Future High Street Fund bid, Margate’s Town Deal offer of up to £22.2m and the Heritage Action Zones. This funding opportunity would support the delivery of regeneration projects in Ramsgate, which would undoubtedly support the whole district's economic recovery and levelling up of its communities.
Communities in Ramsgate want job creation, opportunities for young people, enhancement of the Royal Harbour and investment to support the regeneration of the port of Ramsgate, improvements to the public realm and removing any opportunities for crime. Regeneration of leisure and retail spaces to encourage new businesses was also important to residents. The Ramsgate Levelling Up Bid would help to do some of this, and the wider Town Investment Plan for Ramsgate would include those things that cannot be picked up by the Bid. Whilst £20m in capital was a significant amount, it was worth noting that further work would be needed by all stakeholders to benefit from this investment from central government.
Cabinet further noted that there were a number of things that were required for the Levelling Up Fund. Delivery would need to start within the 2021/22 financial year. All delivery would be required by March 2024. There was up to £20m investment, which was a capital fund and the government was encouraging bids to include a local financial contribution representing at least 10% of total costs. Although the funding contribution does not form part of the Gateway criteria for the fund, there was an expectation that a contribution would be expected from private sector stakeholders, such as developers, If they stood to benefit from a specific project. Cabinet agreed that therefore there would be no expectation that the Council would be underwriting any financial contributions referenced by 10% match in the governments narrative that are required from the private sector.
The following Members spoke under Council Procedure Rule 20.1:
After the discussion, Councillor Ashbee proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Cabinet agreed the following:
1. To approve submission of a Levelling Up Bid to the 18 June 2021 deadline;
2. To delegate authority to Chief Executive and the Leader of Council for final sign-off of the Levelling up Bid;
3. That the Council will not make a financial contribution in any form within the 10% financial contribution encouraged in the prospectus.