Agenda item

Levelling Up Fund Bid Submission to Government

To approve submission to government of three bids to the Levelling Up Fund by the deadline of the 6th July 2022.


Cabinet Members gave consideration to the report as set out in the agenda supplement pack, which asked for approval to submit to government three bids to the Levelling Up Fund by the deadline of the 6th July 2022.


The Cabinet Members for Environment & Economy and Infrastructure & Transport provided a summary of the report and highlighted that:


·        The limited window for submission of funding bids had meant that there had only been approximately 10 weeks to develop full business cases, and consequently this had placed constraints around which type of projects could be bid for. There were numerous other longer term strategic projects which funding is required for, but these were not eligible for inclusion in this round of bidding;

·        A wide range of consultees had been provided with the opportunity to engage with development of the bids, including the two Herefordshire MP’s, Herefordshire Economic Big Plan Stakeholder Group and Council Members. Significant partnership work has also been ongoing between the Council and the various Town Councils across Herefordshire, feeding into the production of the Market Town Investment Plans. All stakeholders were thanked for their collaboration and contributions.

·        The deadline for submission of applications is 6 July, and it was expected that the outcome of the bidding process will be announced in the autumn. A condition of the grant is that projects will have to commence and have some element of spend in financial year 2022/23, with completion by end of March 2025. The included projects had been assessed against their ability to deliver to this timeframe.


Cabinet Members discussed the report and placed on record their appreciation to all Officers involved with development of the bids in such a tight timeframe. Frustration was expressed regarding the inflexibility of the government imposed timetable, which failed to take account of the extensive planning and preparation involved in ensuring that bids achieve best value for money and can draw down the maximum amount of available funding.


Group leaders and representatives presented comments and queries from their respective groups, which highlighted enthusiastic support for the bid submissions. The following observations were noted:


·        Whilst the eligibility criteria for bids in this funding round were understood and appreciated, it was disappointing that this by definition excluded other strategically important projects, and it was hoped that these can be moved forward subsequently;

·        The availability of evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of 20mph zones was raised. Cabinet Members stated in response that reports can be provided which support this initiative, and Hereford Civic Society are hosting a presentation on 21 July 2022 in relation to the ‘20’s Plenty for Us’ campaign;

·        Inflation is currently increasing and concern was expressed regarding whether the project costings were likely to remain within estimates. It was confirmed that sign-off by the S151 Officer demonstrates assurance that the costings are robust, and will nonetheless continue to be carefully monitored.


It was unanimously resolved that:


a) The submission of bids to the government Levelling Up Fund by 6 July 2022 be approved for:

i. A package of public realm improvements in Leominster and Ledbury town centres and enhancements to the Leominster Old Priory building;

ii. Development of the site infrastructure and development plots for the Ross Enterprise Park; and

iii. A package of transport and active travel measures in and around Hereford city;

b) Authority to make technical amendments to the final bid submissions be delegated to the Corporate Director for Economy and Environment and;

c) Authority be delegated to the Section 151 officer to formally submit the bids by the 6July 2022 deadline.

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