Council announces £3.5m fund to encourage building in Norfolk

Ian Mackie, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council and cabinet member for finance and performance.

Ian Mackie, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council and cabinet member for finance and performance.

Norfolk County Council

A shot in the arm for Norfolk’s construction industry has been announced, with community groups given the chance to bid for £3.5m to kickstart building in the county.

The pot of cash has been made available by Norfolk County Council so groups such as parish councils, voluntary groups and charities can apply for a share to create village hall extension, sports facilities, play areas and other community projects.

The double aim of the Norfolk County Council Community Construction Fund is to get those projects off the ground, but also to help boost local builders.

The fund was announced at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s cabinet today (Monday) and comes as the government nationally announced moves to stimulate construction.

The cash has been shifted into the fund because of a budget underspend at County Hall and will be available as one-off grants for new construction projects.

Those eligible to apply for a share of the fund will need to be formally constituted bodies such a parish, town and district councils, charities, sports clubs, neighbourhood boards and churches.

Ian Mackie, deputy leader of Norfolk County Council and cabinet member for finance and performance, said: “I take a very cautious approach to in-year use of underspend because of financial pressures we can encounter, but I am confident of our financial projections for 2012-2013.

“I have always said when we can invest, we will invest. I believe this investment will be a lifeline to an important sector of Norfolk’s economy as the county council does all it can to help economic growth whilst building capacity in Norfolk’s social infrastructure.

“Construction traditionally requires higher levels of employment and for every pound spent a further two pounds is generated from economic activity in the supply chain, often by small and medium sized businesses. This will be a win-win for Norfolk.”

Applications submitted by Norfolk organisations will be coordinated by the Norfolk Community Foundation and a shortlist will be considered by a cross-party panel of Norfolk County Councillors.

The first applications will be accepted from next Monday , with the council deciding where the first share of money will go before Christmas.

The extra work which would be available for the construction industry was welcomed by the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.

Caroline Williams, chief executive of the chamber, said: “The funding from Norfolk County Council will provide a real boost in the current economic climate as we are continuously hearing about how small businesses are struggling particularly in the construction sector.

“I very much hope that this investment fund will go some way to creating a number of sustainable projects in the county, which will also be good for the local economy and good for jobs.”

Full details of how to apply will be available on the county council’s website from next Monday.

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