£5.1million released for Mid Suffolk community projects

Endeavour House, Ipswich

Mid Suffolk District Council HQ, based at Endeavour House, in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

An investment pledge of £5.1million has been made by Mid Suffolk District Council to help boost communities and aid recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the council’s cabinet allocated a seven-figure sum, announced in February, to priority areas around communities, environment, economy, customers, housing and wellbeing, following a series of cross-party task groups to discuss areas in need of support.

The fund allocations are split across 39 projects. Among the headline schemes are £75,000 of support for domestic abuse victims, including security measures like alarms and stronger locks; a £300,000 loan fund for community land trusts to obtain deposits for mortgages; £100,000 for a targeted apprenticeship scheme for those at risk of homelessness; £100,000 towards increasing aspirations for young people, including youth market stalls and youth social prescribing, and £100,000 to fund a business case for a skills and innovation centre at Gateway 14.

Further £100,000 grants will go towards supporting a sustainable travel plan, supporting town centre visions for Stowmarket, Needham Market and Eye, and Covid recovery grants for community groups, while £38,000 will go towards expanding the Active Schools programme to tackle obesity in schools, and £30,000 will fund the continuation of school holiday activity programmes.

The cash has been banked from reserves which the Conservative and Independent administration said it could now use to invest in post-Covid recovery.

Conservative leader Suzie Morley said: “I am delighted to present these proposals for just over £5m worth of investment to support our district to thrive over the next few years, and to recover from the impacts of the Covid pandemic.

“I am very proud of the proposals I am setting out today, and I believe they will make a huge difference to our local communities.

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“Make no mistake, we will see far better outcomes for both businesses and people as a result.”

Keith Welham from the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group said it was ‘a brilliant idea that we should spend some of this money instead of keeping this in jam jars’, although group deputy leader John Field questioned whether fewer projects with larger settlements would yield more results.

Time scales for the projects will vary, with work finalising the details of the programmes now set to take place.