The Town Deal Board met on 11 June 2021. The minutes of the previous meeting were signed off and these shortly be available on the Vision King’s Lynn website.
The meeting started with a few words of thanks and congratulations from the Chair Graham Purkins, following the announcement from Government that King’s Lynn’s Town Deal Board had secured the maximum possible amount of £25,000,000 Town Deal Funding.
Cllr Stuart Dark, MBE, was then introduced as the new leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk and therefore as a new member of the board, replacing Cllr Brian Long, former leader of the council. He also gave his thanks to the work of the board members in pulling together a strong submission which secured the Town Deal Funding.
Cllr Richard Blunt was also introduced as a new board member, currently serving as Cabinet Member for Development and Regeneration. He briefly introduced himself and how his skill set will help support the board’s ambitions.
The Board was advised the Jon Clemo was moving on from Community Action Norfolk and that he would be replaced on the board at the next meeting by Rick Martin.
The Vision King’s Lynn Website will be updated to reflect these changes.
There were two main items discussed at the meeting which were the Heads of Terms for the Town Deal Funding and the Community Renewal Fund.
Town Deal Heads of Terms
The Heads of Terms need to be signed off by the Chief Executive of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk as the accountable body, and by the Chair of the Town Deal Board, but before doing so the Town Deal Board has to confirm they are in agreement with them being signed. There were no objections so these will now be signed off and returned by the deadline of 29th July.
The Heads of Terms confirm that £25m has been allocated and that none of the projects submitted have been rejected by MHCLG, so the job of prioritisation now needs to take place as the total value of the projects is £33m. The board has just two months to do this work to submit a Town Deal – Project Confirmations Document, and only 12 months to develop the businesses cases for each of the projects that will be taken forward. Project funding will be received once the business case is submitted and approved by MHCLG.
To assist with this challenging programme Mott MacDonald have been appointed to help complete the detailed business cases and to act as our ‘critical friend’ ensuring that we stay true to the stated outcomes of the Town Deal Fund. A representative from them will be attending the next board meeting.
The council is also recruiting – a Town’s Fund Programme Manager as there will be a lot of intense work over the next year that will require a dedicated resource to manage.
Community Renewal Fund
The Community Renewal Fund is a one-year programme to distribute European funding, which will be replaced next year by the Shared Prosperity Fund. 100 authorities were asked to develop projects to be submitted by 18 June. A decision on the funding is due to be from the end of July. The call for projects was launched earlier this year, just before the elections, and a total of 46 projects were submitted to the NCC with a total project spend of £26m.
The team at NCC have been critically assessing these submissions against the government scoring criteria and working to strengthen the project proposals as the competition for this funding pot will be high and only those bids that meet the government’s criteria by at least 50% are likely to be considered, with those matching by over 80% likely to be considered first. The bids submitted are still being worked up and a final list will be sent through to Government next week.
Board members were asked to endorse the bid submission and it was approved in principle, subject to circulation of the final list of bids being put forward to the board members prior to submission. The deadline for submission is 18 June.
There are currently two projects underway, which have been funded through the Town Deal Accelerated Fund. The public realm works on the High Street and the School of Nursing on the College of West Anglia site, the latter also having secured funding from additional sources. Updates were provided as follows:
School of nursing
Contractors, the McAvoy Group, have been appointed and are currently constructing the modular building off site. They should move onto site in the next 8 weeks, with handover of the new building to take place in August.
Accreditation for the programme is expected from the NMC in September, with the School of Nursing being operational and welcoming students from early 2022.
High Street Works
Around three quarters of the scheme has been completed now, but the project has been blighted by sub-standard stone being delivered which could not be used. This has been returned to the supplier and new stone has been ordered and is awaited. The remaining area has been filled with tarmac until the new stone is received. Businesses affected have been written to and signage will be put up in the area explaining the issue. It is far from ideal, but unfortunately beyond our control.
There will be further works in a few months’ time when the final street furniture, lamp columns, and other finishing touches are undertaken separately to the surfacing works.
Town Centre Repurposing and Public Realm Working Group
Vicky Etheridge reported that the last meeting was positive and included detailed discussion on night-time economy, pop ups and outdoor seating.
The night-time economy discussion focussed around having lighting beyond only having Christmas lights, but bearing in mind issues around light pollution. Neil Gromett, Managing Director of Alive West Norfolk attended for the discussion about pop ups and experiential uses for such spaces. Outdoor seating was also discussion and was expanded to a discussion about improving the gateways to the town to make them more attractive. This is being investigated further.
Vicky concluded that there were a lot of great ideas that could be turned into actions and that representatives on the group are enthusiastic and ambitious in their thinking but at the same time pragmatic about what is achievable. The group is delighted to hear about the funding and looking forward to helping to work up the business case.
Guildhall and Creative Hub Stakeholder and Community Group and Guildhall and Creative Hub Advisory Group
Michael Baldwin was pleased to report the positivity and enthusiasm shown by both groups and the combined desire for this project to be a success. A feasibility study for the creative hub was presented which drew lots of questions and interest. The SGT gave a presentation on the education side which was also received with interest. The Advisory Group are meeting next week.
Communications and Engagement
The communications protocol has been reviewed to reflect that the Town Deal Board is moving into delivery now, rather than the development of the funding bid. A communications plan is being produced, along with stakeholder mapping for the Town Deal and for the individual projects within – this will be brought to the next Town Deal Board. Documents will be circulated in due course. The website is being updated to reflect the new board members, the new sub-groups and to encourage more engagement on an ongoing basis.
We hope you find this update useful. Please provide any feedback via firstname.lastname@example.org
The next update will be circulated shortly after the next Town Deal Board meeting on 30 June 2021.
Graham Purkins (Chair) and Michael Baldwin (Deputy Chair)