Sunday, 24 February 2013

City Deal moves forward

Probably the most exciting news of the week was that we have been successful with our initial bid to be one of the new City Deals. Originally 8 of the largest cities in the country were offered deals - being an agreement with central government to release certain powers and/or funding to help regeneration. Last autumn we were invited to bid to participate in the second wave along with 19 other cities and towns. It was good to receive the approach and we are the only bid in our South East LEP. The bid is in 2 elements. Firstly a bespoke section, crafted by Southend Council and aimed to address a particular issue in the town which we perceive is limiting economic regeneration. If this element works then we are also able to access the Core Package which will be common to the successful bids and will enable us to access a more generic range of powers which will also roll out across south Essex. So this is a big deal for us and our immediate neighbours. Our bespoke deal involves improving CPO powers to enable us to identify specific sites acting as a block to regeneration with the council borrowing funds to develop the relevant sites which will then be funded by us retaining the business rate increased income which the scheme creates. It costs central Government nothing and let's us clear some log jams. If it works it will also be scheme which could roll out in other areas where regeneration is limited by tight urban boundaries. We are now moving to flesh out the details. It is not only a very exciting project but the fact that we are being given the opportunity to participate demonstrates the faith central government has in our ability to deliver.

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