So what has happened to our £36.9m town deal?
REVAMP PLANS: Grimsby’s docks and the landmark Dock Tower. Picture: The POM Flying Club
By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 2 Feb 2018
MPs were calling for answers from the Government over the delay in progressing with the economy-boosting Grimsby town deal.
The town deal – estimated to add £216 million a year to the North East Lincolnshire economy – was mentioned in the Government’s hefty 255-page industrial strategy in November, but ministers have been coy on mentioning the idea since.
But now a minister has agreed to meet with both Grimsby MP Melanie Onn and Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers after they raised concerns in the House of Commons about talk of the regeneration scheme going quiet.
Business minister Richard Harrington reassured the pair that he would be “making sure this happens as soon as is possible”.
Backed by both private investors and North East Lincolnshire Council, the 10-year town deal is an upgrade plan looking for £36.9 million of Government funds, spread over five years, to match private investment for use in sprucing up the town.
The scheme is aiming to breathe new life into the waterways and docks while creating educational and leisure opportunities, with long-term targets of establishing 5,400 further jobs and building 7,700 homes.
FUNDS PROMISE: The former ice factory and, right, Grimsby town centre
MPs are said to have expressed fears privately that the Government looked to have gone cold on the idea of matching any investment.
Those concerns were added to when Jake Berry, the Northern ‘Powerhouse’ Minister, told Mr Vickers last week that all questions about the town deal should be referred to business ministers – despite council figures holding a series of meetings in recent months about the regeneration with Mr Berry and the permanent secretary of his department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
But Richard Harrington, a junior business minister, has now agreed to take up the mantle and has offered to meet Mr Vickers and Ms Onn in Westminster to discuss the plans. He suggested a visit to Grimsby could also be on the cards.
Mr Harrington, responsible for delivering the industrial strategy, told Conservative backbencher Mr Vickers on Tuesday that he welcomed the “strong public-private approach to driving forward ambitious plans for the regeneration of Grimsby”.
He also confirmed that Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) officials were in “close contact on the detail of this deal” with the town deal project board.
Labour’s Ms Onn accused the Government of allowing the regeneration masterplan to be “ping-ponged” between Whitehall departments and asked when her “very patient constituents” would “start to see the change that they deserve?”
Mr Harrington, who was moved to BEIS during the ministerial reshuffle in January, told Ms Onn that he was taking “responsibility” and would be “making sure this happens as soon as is possible”.