Wednesday, April 7, 2021

News: Council calls on Government to cough up


Having been extended a provisional funding offer of £12m on Boxing Day 2020, Rotherham is yet to receive the much needed money to transform its high street.

Rothbiz reported in February that a bid to the Future High Streets Fund (FHSF) was only partially successful, with an offer for £12,660,708 recieved when the authority actually bid for over £18m.

In setting out is budget for next year, council officers included an extra £4.1m pot for the programme to help make up the shortfall.

The bid is for the redevelopment of Markets (cgi, above), the creation of high-quality Riverside Gardens linking the Forge Island redevelopment with the town centre, further public realm works, and the Grimm & Co redevelopment at Talbot Lane.

The Leader of Rotherham Council has written to the Secretary of State for Local Government, two months after the Minister described accessing Future High Streets Fund cash as requiring only "simple steps."

At the end of January, the Minister wrote to council leaders and chief executives, saying; “I am very keen, as I am sure you are, to conclude this technical update quickly, so that we can confirm funding and ensure payments are made in good time.”

But at the end of March, there has still been no news on this, or the council’s Towns Fund bid, which is intended to support further improvements to the town centre, Templeborough and Eastwood.

Cllr Chris Read, Labour Leader of Rotherham Council, said: "We are now in the absurd situation whereby the government is asking Rotherham and other councils to develop bids for funding, with costed projects, faster than they can even sign a cheque they wanted people to believe was already in the post. A huge amount of work has gone into developing bids for this much needed investment in the town centre.

"We all want to get on with these improvements as soon as possible. But three months after they announced the money, we still don't actually have the money."

A Rotherham bid for millions was not on the latest list of successful "town deals" announced by the Government. Rotherham bid for £35m and the council and its partners are still hopeful that the Government will still back it.

Images: RMBC / Greig & Stephenson Architects


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