£6.5m given for Norfolk to level up - but critics say it is not enough

County Hall in Norwich

A High Court challenge over changes made to disability support cost Norfolk County Council more than £120,000 - it can be revealed. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Projects to develop skills in Norfolk have been given £6.5m from a government cash pot - but the sum, almost half of the total applied for, has been branded too low.

Norfolk County Council has been awarded the funds through the government's Community Renewal Fund, which will go towards 14 projects. The figure makes Norfolk the county with the greatest number of successful applications in England.

Graham Plant deputy leader and cabinet member for growing the economy at Norfolk County Council, said: “We have an ambitious vision for Norfolk’s future as it recovers from the pandemic so I am encouraged that the government has backed so many projects in our county. We want to see inclusive, sustainable growth that builds skills and fosters innovation.

Graham Plant, Councillor, at the grand reopening of the Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Y

Graham Plant, deputy leader at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

“We would have loved to see funding awarded for all of the Norfolk projects that applied. They all had their strengths so I would like to thank everyone who put their ideas forward for their passion and hard work.”

But Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council, said: "‘Compared to the £12.5m Norfolk asked for, getting half that much is a bit of a let down but it’s what we are used to.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Labour's Steve Morphew - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

"The government decision is four months late and has missed the moment as plans were being made back in July for the way out of Covid. I have to welcome desperately needed extra money but it’s one off initiative funding.

"That just highlights how starved of mainstream funding councils are. If we councils weren’t so short of funds we could have done the things Norfolk needs with certainty and months ago."

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Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat group leader on the council, said: "We welcome these projects and wish them well but it is indicative of how far behind the government sees Norfolk is economically."

He said it would do little to reverse years of underdevelopment of Norfolk's economy.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

"There needs to be much more work and less reliance on government funding from County Hall to solve the problems if Norfolk is to overcome these historical deficiencies," he said.

"We want to see more emphasis in helping small local businesses grow and creating greater opportunities for new businesses to flourish. It needs to be greater than short term jobs, part time jobs or pilot schemes."

A spokesperson for the government's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “The UK Community Renewal Fund is based on an open and transparent competition with projects assessed using the published criteria.

“We’ve extended the project deadline by three months to 30 June, 2022, in recognition of the delay to announcements and to enable sufficient time for successful bidders to deliver their projects.”

Which projects will benefit from the funding?

  • 100 Day Challenge Norwich, Norwich City Council - £492,159 
  • The Skill Mill in Norfolk - £201,900
  • Net Zero Norfolk: Sustainable Transport Network, Norfolk County Council - £420,000 
  • Enabling Self Employment in Norfolk, New Anglia LEP - £619,316
  • Progression to Apprenticeships, Norfolk County Council - £250,000
  • Volunteer It Yourself - £525,000
  • Road to Net Zero, New Anglia LEP - £659,220
  • Energy Solutions at Hethel, Norfolk County Council - £630,700
  • Youth Enterprise Scheme, Norfolk County Council - £449,983
  • Inclusive Economy Project, East Coast College - £597,760
  • Net Zero Norfolk, Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk - £325,500
  • Norfolk County Council Construction and Environment Skills Hub - £568,000
  • New U In The Community, New U Enterprises - £189,841
  • Norfolk BIDs, Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) - £500,000

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