Boost for £36m town deal as ministers commit to exploring Grimsby pilot
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 9 Mar 2018
Grimsby’s economy-boosting “town deal” has taken a significant step forward after the Government confirmed “a commitment” to setting-up a pilot scheme.
Councillor Ray Oxby, leader of North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC), said he was “delighted” at the development of the proposals, with ministers using a meeting this week to draw-up a timetable for thrashing out the details and finalising any investment.
The Kasbah will form part of this massive regeneration plan for the heart of Grimsby
Lord Oliver Henly, responsible for the Industrial Strategy, met with Mr Oxby, council chief executive Rob Walsh and MPs Melanie Onn and Martin Vickers in Westminster on Wednesday, with Grimsby-born millionaire-backer David Ross dialling in for the session.
The Conservative peer told the delegation he wanted to see a prospectus outlining firm details for what the town deal would entail by April and has agreed to discuss Government investment in June once the local council election in May has taken place.
Council CEO Mr Walsh said: “We have a commitment to working towards a pilot deal by June. We have agreed a timetable that will see us continue to engage with government officials to finalise the terms of the deal. We have had the warm words but now we are negotiating for a firm commitment.”
The Grimsby town deal delegation (L-R): Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers and North East Lincolnshire Council Leader Ray Oxby met with Lord Henly (inside left)
The 10-year town deal – which has cross-party backing at Grimsby Town Hall – is an upgrade scheme aiming to breathe new life into Grimsby’s waterways and docks.
It plans to create educational and leisure opportunities, with long-term targets of establishing 5,400 further jobs and building 7,700 homes, as well as adding £216m a year to the local economy.
The Greater Grimsby Partnership Board – the public and private sector team behind the ambitions – wants to match private and NELC investment with a grant of £36m from Government, paid over 5 years, to make the regeneration a reality.
Mr Walsh said discussions about central government funding would “run in parallel” while the details of the pilot were being ironed out.
Chief executive of NELC Rob Walsh
Great Grimsby MP Melanie Onn said the meeting with Lord Henly provided an opportunity to “check that the commitment following on from the Industrial Strategy was still there”.
The town deal was cited in November’s 255-page Industrial Strategy, but there were fears the concept had hit the buffers after Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry refused to take questions about it Parliament . Business Minister Lord Henly has since taken the reins.
Ms Onn said: “We know now we have to provide the detail and evidence they are looking for and, at the same time, we have a clear idea of what the Government is doing.”
Martin Vickers, MP for Cleethorpes, said Business Secretary Greg Clark was “personally interested in seeing this through”. It is understood the Cabinet member pushed for the Grimsby deal to be included in the Industrial Strategy.
Grimsby's mention in the Government's Industrial Strategy white paper - it featured on p226 of the 255-page document
Mr Oxby, leader of the Labour group on the borough council , said: “I’m delighted at the outcome of the meeting. The Government, at a senior level, has shown its commitment to our partnership approach.”
He said he was “reassured” to see “a senior civil servant” – who also attended the meeting – appointed to “co-ordinate” between the two departments overseeing the town deal – the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Tory MP Mr Vickers raised the town deal with Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. The PM did not go so far as endorsing the regeneration plan but recognised it was “important to the local area” and urged the board to “continue engaging with officials on the details of the plan”.
A BEIS spokesman described the delegation’s account of the meeting as “accurate” with further announcements expected in due course.
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