Norwich gets ‘significant’ £25m slice of government fund to kickstart 2040 vision
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
Norwich has been revealed as one of the first seven places across the country to be given a £25m slice of a £3.6b funding pot aimed at getting homes built and kickstarting business.
The city was today picked to be one of the first recipients of the government’s Towns Fund, which the government describes as being an attempt to “level up” local economies by investing in transport, infrastructure and skills.
In Norwich, the funding will help grow the 2040 vision for the city, creating a place which is “creative, liveable, fair, connected and dynamic”.
The deal will see millions invested to help create a Digital Hub and Digi-Tech Factory, which hope to give local people and businesses the chance to access state-of-the-art technology to boost skills and improve their services.
City leaders shared their delight at the news, though MP Clive Lewis called the amount “paltry”.
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Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “This is a significant investment in Norwich at a time when we need to plan for the future of the city and its recovery.
“This gives us the opportunity to rethink our approach to achieving our ambitions as part of Norwich 2040 City Vision and allows us to look at our long term future regionally, nationally and internationally.
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“The £25m will help to fund clean growth and ensure our residents are equipped with the skills of the future, have access to good jobs with fair pay and progression, and are better connected to our growth sectors.
“The success of this deal is testament to how well the city works in partnership.”
Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and Norwich Town Deal Board Member, said: “This is fantastic news for Norwich. We are pleased to be working with Norwich City Council and local partners to help secure this funding for a range of exciting projects.
“The bid to government underlined the ambition to build on Norwich’s reputation as a creative, liveable, fair, connected and dynamic city and we’re delighted to play a part in that.
“Projects like the digital hub and new digitech factory will help to boost Norwich’s appeal as an attractive place to work, study and start a business – all of which help to attract and retain the best talent to help our economy grow and prosper.
“The investment builds on the ambitions set out in our Local Industrial Strategy and Economic Recovery Restart Plan and build on projects already being supported by the LEP.”
Mr Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said Tory MPs would “spin” the awards as “huge boosts”.
“That’s absolutely not the case for Norwich where the cost of Covid has left the city council with a £7m financial hole and the County looking at a further £40m it needs to find,” he said.
“And someone needs to ask those Tory MPs where were they when successive Tory governments since 2010 slashed funding so much that that children’s centres have nearly all been obliterated in our county?”
He added that, despite the funding, it was another example of Norwich being “thrown under the bus” by government as the Towns Fund was unfairly weighted towards Conservative areas.
“Yet again our City has been left behind by this Tory government and a Conservative Party that simply can’t stop itself bending or breaking the rules for their political advantage,” he said.
Part of the project is a new facility being built at City College Norwich, which will lead to 477 new students, 100 new apprentices and eight new jobs,
Until 2016, the college did not have any IT-related courses in its curriculum.
Work is now underway to confirm the final funding amount and get deals in place so much needed regeneration projects can begin.
All 101 towns selected to work towards a Town Deal were given a funding allocation with proposals being submitted to the government.
The first cohort of towns submitted proposals in July, before being reviewed by officials and a final decision made by ministers. Further Town Deals are due to be announced during November.
King’s Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Ipswich are also in the running to receive funding.