Friday, February 19, 2016

News: Reprieve for RiDO as Council outlines budget


RiDO, the award-winning regeneration arm of Rotherham Council is set to continue with its key role in supporting the growth of the borough's economy after the authority put forward central funding for the service.

RiDO offers free services to businesses including support for new-start enterprises, attracting inward investment, supporting growing companies finding premises, HR support, running successful business incubation centres, developing economic strategies and town centre management.

In discussing upcoming budgets, which includes proposed savings of £21m for this year, councillors warned that reduced external and grant funding had placed the RiDO team at risk, and highlighted the importance of the service in attracting inward investment and helping to realise the vision of the Growth Plan and the Council's own corporate plan.

With local authorities under intense pressure to make savings, a scrutiny review by borough councillors into how the Council can support the local economy outlined how it will be even more important for the Council to generate income via an increase in business rates and Council Tax.

A report on the latest budget proposals states: "There is significant growth potential in the Borough and the wider Sheffield City Region. Continuing to restore business confidence and making Rotherham a place for "doing business" will help attract much needed inward investment and will be integral to Rotherham's future economic ambition.

"Rotherham has ambitious targets in the Local Plan for new housing, with a need for 958 new homes a year. It also has a jobs target of 1,000 a year and 750 net new businesses over the next five years. This correlates to the growth ambitions set out in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) Strategic Economic Plan and more locally with the Council's Growth Plan.

"The Council also has a major role to play in helping drive this growth and enterprise, both as a facilitator and also in terms of a potential deliverer, as a major land and property owner."

The proposed budget includes £160,000 a year for the next three years which "represents replacement of lost grant funding with revenue budget to support the Rotherham Investment Development Office (RIDO) – a service critical for attracting inward investment into the borough if it is to grow and thrive."

The team is also set to bid into other funding sources including European funding and the recently launched Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

One saving proposal includes merging the RiDO Economic Development and Business retail and investment teams, to create one team with joint management. Proposals to increase parking charges in the town centre are also included but plans to close the Visitor Centre have been shelved.

Cllr. Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, said: "We've taken the tough decisions and are determined to meet our commitment to improve services, particularly those that keep our borough's children safe.

"We've listened to residents' feedback and are continuing to make back office savings, whilst protecting front line services as far as we can. We're playing our part in creating more jobs in the borough and maintaining the local environment in protecting continued investment into RiDO and the Council’s Streetpride services, something we know is important to residents.

“We've heard concerns about the proposals around the Visitor Centre and .. we're also continuing our long-term commitment to investing in the town centre with ongoing work on the masterplan and provision in principle of up to £17m for related developments."

Council tax in the borough is set to be increased by 3.95% with all proposals to be considered by Full Council at its budget-setting meeting on 2 March 2016.

RiDO website

Images: RiDO


Graldhunter February 19, 2016 at 11:56 AM  

Same old same old ... just like Da Stone Age ... charge more, get less ... put up parking charges and t'rates it'll bi rayt, reight, right, duh :-(

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