Issue details

Appointment of Hereford Towns Fund website and engagement portal (Simple Design Works) following completion of the procurement process

In late 2019 Hereford was included within the government’s “Towns Fund” Programme. Through the Towns Fund, Government is working with places to address growth constraints and to ensure the country can chart a course of recovery from the impact of Covid-19. The overarching aim of the Towns Fund is to increase economic growth with a focus on regeneration, improved transport, better broadband connectivity, skills and culture.

Each town in the programme is required to submit a “Town Investment Plan” (TIP) which sets out the vision and strategy for the town and includes a selection of projects that will deliver the vision. There are two phases in the process, with a decision gateway at the end of each. First, towns will develop TIPs, which will be assessed by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government to inform a Heads of Terms offer (given the submission is of sufficient quality). Towns will then develop agreed projects and business cases in detail, and government will assess that information before releasing funding for implementation. This second element of the process is not currently part of the Rose Regeneration commission.

The Hereford Towns Fund Board is a public / private organisation set up to drive the production of the TIP. Its formation was a condition of inclusion on the programme and its membership has been determined on the basis of government guidance. The Board, via Herefordshire Council as the accountable body, wish to appoint a consultant that has experience in delivering similar masterplan and visioning documents, engaging with local communities and preparing a strong evidence base.

There was no application process for selection within the Towns Fund programme and Hereford’s inclusion was a government, rather than local, decision. There was no engagement with the council about the process prior to the announcement of the selected towns and launch of the programme, and neither was there any ability to lobby for the inclusion of other towns within Herefordshire.

The Towns Fund Board are required to undertake significant community engagement to provide an evidence base for the Town Investment Plan. The Towns Fund Board identified the creation of a Hereford Towns Fund website as an important communication tool for the Board to use in engaging with the Hereford community. The website will enable the Board to provide information about the Towns Fund process and potential, advertise opportunities for local people and business to get involved, provide a direct “portal” function so that people can submit their ideas for the Town Investment Plan, and detail the Board members, the Board processes and governance.

The procurement procedure was a restricted tender process which was issued to three potential suppliers. Two responses were received back and assessed by the towns Fund Board. Simple Design Works were appointed due to their previous experience, their ability to produce the website within the required time frame and because they were the lowest quote received.

Decision type: Non-key

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Notice of proposed decision first published: 06/10/2020

Decision due: 6 October 2020 by Director of Economy and Place

Contact: Nick Webster, Economic development manager Email: Tel: 01432 260601.