Hastings bids for £25million town deal funding

Hastings Borough Council is set to bid for up to £25m of government funding, after proposals were approved by council leaders this week.

View towards Hastings Old Town from Hastings Pier.
Hastings Seafront. SUS-160208-151414001
View towards Hastings Old Town from Hastings Pier. Hastings Seafront. SUS-160208-151414001

At a meeting on Monday (January 6), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet gave the go ahead to begin developing a formal ‘town deal bid’, which would seek to secure government funding to improve the local economy. 

As a result the council is to set up a board, which the government requires to be in place by the end of the month, tasked with developing an investment plan for the town.

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Council leader Peter Chowney (Lab) said: “It is good news. £25m doesn’t go very far in terms of addressing all the things that need to be addressed in this. 

“[But] the ambitions that are in this really helps and gives us the opportunity to potentially draw down other funds as well and fits in to some of our own schemes.

“One of the key factors for this that I would want to see is about tackling climate change and bringing in connectivity and encouraging walking and cycling, improving public transport and getting people out of cars as well.”

However, Cllr Chowney said he was ‘slightly disappointed’ that the timing of the process meant the board would be made up of groups which have previously been involved in council consultations rather than new groups or individual residents. 

To counteract this, Cllr Chowney said, the council intends to engage with the community in drawing up the final proposal by the end of next summer.

To be formed before the end of January, the town deal board is to be tasked with drawing up a regeneration investment plan for the town, which would identify projects which could benefit most from the funding. 

This work will be funded through a £173,029 grant provided by the Government.

This grant was welcomed by Cllr Rob Lee, leader of the council’s Conservative group. He said: “One of the things that is important about this is that the £173,029 being given to us is not money we are having to find to be able to access it.

“Something I have found to be very frustrating over the years is match funding, where you have to provide vast sums of money in order to access other sums of money. It always, I feel, penalises us more than other councils.

“Not having that hurdle I think is quite important.”

Cllr Lee also said he would like to see the funding going towards projects the council has ‘alreday invested a lot of time and money into’.

Established by the Government in November, the £3.6bn Town Deal Fund is intended to improve economic growth through investment in public projects.

According to the Government, this could take the form of the redevelopment of vacant buildings and land or investment to ensure young people have the skills they need to get good jobs.

Hastings is one of just 101 towns eligible to apply for the funding. 

According to the council, the authority would aim to use the money to fund projects on housing, education and environment.