Government regeneration guru in whirlwind visit to Bexhill

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On Friday 9th February Adam Hawksbee, the interim chair of the Government's Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) Towns Unit, made a whirlwind visit to Bexhill to meet with Huw Merriman MP, RDC and a group of influential local business and community stakeholders.

Adam is visiting all 55 towns that will share in the £1.1bn of Government funding that is being distributed as part of the Long Term Plan for Towns. Bexhill is due to recieve £20m of this funding over the next ten years to help kickstart regeneration initiatives around Heritage and the town centre, safety and security and transport interconnectivity.

Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and about a dozen other local stakeholders were invited to meet with Adam and his team at the De La Warr Pavilion to be briefed on the funding and to discuss some of Bexhill's needs and aspirations for regeneration.

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Attendees included representatives from the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill Chamber of Commerce, The Pelham, Heart of Sidley, Mens' Shed, Bexhill Maritime, Bexhill Museum, Living Communities and East and West Sussex representatives.

Howard Martin, President Bexhill Chamber of Commerce meets Towns Guru Adam HawksbeeHoward Martin, President Bexhill Chamber of Commerce meets Towns Guru Adam Hawksbee
Howard Martin, President Bexhill Chamber of Commerce meets Towns Guru Adam Hawksbee

The discussions were very constructive and informative for the DLUCH team. Derek Merkl of Men's Shed emphasised the difficulties for social enterprises to find cost effective premises that could also support ongoing costs.

Ollie Jeffs of The Pelham was keen to support youth based initiatives and emphasised the importance of youth retention to the town.

Bexhill Maritime made a superb case for high profile landmark investment in such things as the proposed Bexhill Maritime Heritage centre.

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Adam Hawksbee was very engaged with the matters under discussion as they were similar to those encountered across the country in the other "left behind" towns.

Tracey Love as VP of Bexhill Chamber raised the difficulties we have attracting new business to the town dues to poor quality building stock and lack of incentives to invest.

Howard Martin, President of Bexhill Chamber of Commerce along with Stewart Drew the CEO of the De La Warr, drilled down into some of the technicalities of the funding delivery and were reassured that funding would be targeted at frontline requirements rather than being swallowed up in the administration costs.

Adam Hawksbee emphasised that although DLUCH would be a light touch regulator of the funds they would definitely be monitoring how the money was being spent and that it was being targeted by the Town Board appropriately.

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Howard Martin Bexhill Chamber of Commerce President said; "This was a great meeting, what the town really needed to get a grip on this game changing investment.

"We would like to thank Adam and his team for coming down, it was very reassuring to hear that the Town Board will be fully supported and be community and business led.

"This meeting shows and supports the notion that the Government are serious about these funds being spent and allocated from the bottom up rather than the top down."

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