Hastings council leaders expected to bid for £25 million government funding

Hastings Borough Council could be set to bid for up to £25m of government funding, if the first phase is approved by council leaders next week.

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

Peter Chowney

Peter Chowney

This would see council leaders agree to set up a board tasked with developing an investment plan for the town, which would highlight areas where investment could make a difference. This work will be funded through a £173,029 grant provided by government.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, council leader Peter Chowney said: “The Town Deal offer is welcome, and gives us an opportunity to bring together a wide range of interests across the borough to look at what projects could be funded to address our local priorities. 

“This first phase provides £173,000 funding to put together a detailed proposal for what we would spend the £25m on. 

“Firstly, we have to establish a ‘Town Board’ that will represent different interests across the borough, including education, health, local authorities, businesses and the community sector. 

“This has to be done during January, so we will need to depend on those who have already been involved in local consultative structures.  It doesn’t give us enough time to recruit board members from the wider community. 

“However, we will also be looking to set up a community engagement framework to assemble the final proposal by the end of next summer.  This proposal will then be negotiated with government, with funding provided early in 2021.”

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. 

Cllr Chowney added: “We will be looking to create a proposal that addresses some of the problems we have in Hastings – for example, a lack of affordable housing, low skills and educational achievement, and poor local transport infrastructure. 

“We will also be expecting funded projects to help achieve our goal of making Hastings carbon neutral by 2030.

 “However, £25m will not go very far in achieving those goals – we need far bigger investment to deal with the very serious problems we have in Hastings. 

“It’s a start, but we will be expecting the government to come up with far more ambitious plans for deprived coastal towns, such as Hastings, in the future.”

Huw Oxburgh , Local Democracy Reporting Service