Green light for £2m pot for key Suffolk projects
PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:00 01 March 2019
A £2million pot of cash has been formed by council bosses in Suffolk to fund growth projects across the county.
Suffolk Public Sector Leaders – the gathering of all council chief executives and leaders as well as police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore – approved the seven-figure pot at its meeting in Ipswich on Friday, March 1, made up of money collected through business rates. It follows on from a pilot scheme last year in which Suffolk authorities were able to keep 100% of the business rates it collected, instead of sending the usual 50% to central government.
That pot resulted in more than £10m being collected for key regeneration projects, including the Sudbury Hamilton Road quarter and Ipswich Waterfront gateway.
Now that pilot has been completed, the new Local Growth Fund of £2m will effectively continue that work. Councillor Nick Gowrley, Mid Suffolk District Council leader, said: “I think it’s an excellent idea. The business rates retention pilot worked really well and showed good collaboration for us all.” The pot would provide around £500,000 for each of the four areas in the county – Ipswich, Babergh and Mid Suffolk, east Suffolk and west Suffolk, and ideas would be put forward by councils in those areas. Chris Bally, deputy chief executive at Suffolk County Council said: “Proposals will be decided collectively with suggestions coming forward from both district and borough councils and the county council, and then they will be agreed by us here.” Mr Bally added that projects being put forward by police and health services would also be considered. The council leaders are now set to report back in June with ideas for projects which can be funded with the pot.
The public sector leaders group applied to be a part of the 75% business rates retention pilot being trialled this year, but was unsuccessful.
Mr Bally said that those areas in the country selected this year were those which unsuccessfully applied during last year’s 100% pilot.
He said there was “nothing to read into” Suffolk not being successful. It is understood the government is now considering rolling out the 75% business rates scheme nationally from 2020. Among the 29 Suffolk schemes to secure cash last summer were £500,000 for public realm improvements in Ipswich, up to £700,000 for a new sports hall in Newmarket, £240,000 for the revamp of the former Stowmarket NatWest building and £800,000 towards car parking and drainage improvements in Woodbridge.