Monday, November 20, 2023

News: Government grants Rotherham flexibility over regeneration millions


Rotherham Council is being granted more flexibility over the £80m+ regeneration funding it has secured from the Government.

Designed to bring various funding pots together and speed up spending, Simplification Pathfinder status also means that the authority could delay schemes that are due to complete in 2024 by two more years, and not risk sending the money back to Whitehall.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has recently warned of delays around spending the Government's Levelling Up funding pots, with less than £1bn out of £9.5bn allocated and £2bn distributed spent by March 2023. Inflationary pressures, skills shortages, and wider construction industry supply challenges have combined with problems over funding announcements.

In 2021, Rotherham secured £31.6m from the Town Deal to revamp areas of Rotherham town centre as well as Templeborough and Eastwood, and £12.6m from the Future High Streets Fund. From the first round of the Levelling Up Fund, two of the three bids from Rotherham were successful in securing money - £19.5m for the town centre and £19.9m for a number of connected projects which aim to build a new leisure industry.

The Simplification Pathfinder Pilot sees ten local authorities across England pilot a simplified approach to funding delivery. A Government report explains: "Pilot local authorities will have greater ability to make decisions locally about moving funding between projects in their funding portfolio. We will devolve decision-making responsibility over 3 in-flight capital funding programmes in pilot areas, increasing local flexibility, and reducing bureaucracy and inefficiency within the delivery process."

The Rotherham funds will be aggregated into a £83.6m pot which can be managed flexibly across a portfolio of projects.

Instead of reports for each funding stream, local authorities will agree an investment plan and submit one 3-monthly report (focusing on spend and progress) and one 6-monthly delivery report based on a combined set of outcomes and outputs.

The council will only now need to seek approval from the government if they are making a "material change" to its investment plan - moving at least £5m to a different intervention theme or moving at least £5m between projects in the same intervention theme. Delays happened in Rotherham, when partners needed to seek approval to move its live music venue proposals away from the Guest & Chrimes site when they couldn't make it work.

Future High Street Fund and Levelling Up Fund money was due to be spent by March 2024. In Rotherham this includes projects that have suffered delays due to rising costs and difficulties securing contractors.

The revamp of Rotherham Market, which is using money from the Future High Street Fund, has only just seen enabling works start and a final cost is not yet known. At Riverside Gardens, another Future High Street Fund project, a contractor has only just been identified.

Other schemes are at different stages, with some far from complete. These include new units at Templeborough, more housing in the Riverside Quarter, leisure economy projects at Maltby, Gulliver's Valley and Wentworth Woodhouse, the pocket park on High Street, replacing the burnt-out buildings on Corporation Street, redevelopment to extend the leisure quarter in the town centre, the proposed new Mainline Station, and new connections between Eastwood and Parkgate.

Council minutes on the status explain: "It's quite [a] considerable amount of money before we have to report into government, whereas at the moment any changes to outputs, any changes to projects or significant moving of money, we have to report that to government, which can be quite lengthy process. It's something that we did with the Guest and Chrimes project.

"It also would adjust the timeframe, so we would bring all the timeframes for all the programmes into one. For example, at the moment Town Deal is March 2026 for delivery and Future High Street fund and Levelling up fund are March 2024. It would allow us to push that deadline back so it essentially gives us another couple of years to deliver the projects, which again is a huge, huge benefit for us. Other towns are not getting that benefit, it is all really positive news."

Since the borough was named in the pathfinder pilot, the Government announced that Rotherham would receive £20m endowment-style funds over ten years to invest in local people’s priorities.

Rotherham's Town Board will have direct government support in addition to the funding and powers they receive through the government's new "Long-Term Plan for Towns," and will be required to engage local people on their long-term plan.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said that it would replace short-term funding pots where little or no consultation with local people is carried out, with investment directly in the places that need it most, and "not politicians that squander the most."

Images: RMBC / Tetra Tech


Anonymous,  November 20, 2023 at 12:25 PM  

Sounds like a fudge to me. As is often said, "follow the money". It will be interesting to see where it ends up and which projects fall by the wayside.

Anonymous,  November 20, 2023 at 4:23 PM  

Twelve million has been earmarked for Clifton Park, for Projects like updating the roundabouts in readiness for the Reytons concert, a new bench alongside the bowling green, a toilet roll and duck in the museum toilets and, by popular demand from Rothbiz regulars, a new mosque where the band stand is currently situated

Anonymous,  November 21, 2023 at 7:22 AM  

I'll believe it when I see it. We've heard all these sorts of promises before!

Anonymous,  November 21, 2023 at 1:46 PM  

Also there is a commitment on behalf of children's year of culture to replace the fire damaged donkey, though they have yet to identify the owner of the previous donkey's carcass. Compulsory purchase is an option being considered

Anonymous,  November 21, 2023 at 6:23 PM  

That will just saddle us with more debt.

Anonymous,  November 22, 2023 at 8:13 AM  

Muletide greetings coming a little early

Anonymous,  November 22, 2023 at 9:19 AM  

Most surprising thing for me throughout that article is there hasn't been one mention of cycle lanes :-)

Anonymous,  November 22, 2023 at 4:53 PM  

People only mention them periodically. It's a cyclical thing

Anonymous,  November 23, 2023 at 2:17 PM  

Slightly off piste, but unless my eyes deceiveth, they have actually started to demolish Pecks (Eastwood Trading Estate, Fitzwilliam Road - town centre) Only taken 50 years of abandonment

Anonymous,  November 24, 2023 at 6:06 AM  

They may just be giving it a face lift

Anonymous,  November 27, 2023 at 9:58 PM  

Heard it's going to be a new mosque

Supported by:
More news...

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP