Cabinet Portfolio: - Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working
Strategic Directorate: - Regeneration and Environment
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 24 January 2022 regarding the proposed Towns and Villages Fund. The Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy, the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working, the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment and the Project, Initiatives, and Improvement Officer attended the meeting to present the report.
In introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy stated that the proposed Towns and Villages Fund was a new £4 million capital programme in Rotherham that aimed to improve the borough’s local town and village centres. It was noted that based upon projects put forward by ward members that had been developed in consultation with their communities, a work programme and associated processes for delivering projects has been produced. It was noted that the work programme would ensure that a range of projects that delivered on the different priorities raised by residents from across the Borough would be completed over the next three years
The report stated that the Towns and Villages Fund was a capital scheme with projects being allocated funds between April 2021 and March 2024. It was noted that the time taken to deliver all projects was expected to cover the full three-year period of the scheme.
An indicative work programme for the proposed projects to be delivered by the Towns and Villages Fund was attached as appendix to the officer’s report.
Members sought confirmation that officers would work with members who had submitted requests for improvement projects that did not fit the criteria of the scheme to develop alternative proposals. The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working assured members that officers and the relevant Cabinet Members were working with and supporting members in their wards to identify potential projects that could be delivered by the Towns and Villages Fund. The Deputy Leader also confirmed that ward members would be supported by the Neighbourhoods Team to identify and obtain additional and alternative funding streams to deliver improvement projects in their wards where the projects could not be delivered via the Towns and Villages fund.
Members noted their approval for the scheme and how they were pleased to have seen how well communities had been engaged with and empowered in order to establish their priorities for improvements in their local areas. Members also noted how well the scheme had been received by residents in their wards. The Deputy Leader stated how excited she was by the development of the programme and how well residents had engaged and provided ideas on how their local areas could be improved and be made better places to live.
Members noted examples of projects that they had suggested for implementation but that had not met the criteria for the scheme but expressed thanks to officers who were now working with them to develop schemes that could be delivered by the Towns and Villages Fund. Members stated that it would be beneficial in order to assist members to submit future projects that would be able to be supported by the fund that an all-member seminar be delivered on the Towns and Villages Fund.
Members sought assurance that the Council was engaging with private landowners where necessary in order to deliver the proposed improvement projects. The Deputy Leader confirmed that where relevant private landowners had been written to and that officers would be enabling the discussions with private landowners that would move the delivery of projects forwards.
Members asked what plans were in place for the wards that would not initially be able to submit projects for consideration to the Towns and Villages Fund due to pending decisions by Government on bids for Levelling Up funding. The Deputy Leader advised that whilst it was hoped that these bids would be successful, that a proportion of the Towns and Villages Fund budget would be held back in case of the bids were unsuccessful. It was noted that should the bids for Levelling Up funding be successful then the funds that had been held back would be made available for projects elsewhere in the Borough.
The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy, the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Working, the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment and the Projects, Initiatives, and Improvement Officer for attending the meeting and for answering member questions.
1) That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.
2) That an all-member seminar be delivered on the Towns and Villages Fund.