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Council to receive £3million Government grant to improve towns

The heart of the bid includes three major employment and skills hubs.

Ashfield District Council will receive more than £3 million from the Government to kickstart the delivery of its Towns Fund projects to transform Sutton and Kirkby.

But councillors have moved to “temper peoples’ expectations” and say the new initiatives won’t be delivered overnight.

The district was successful in its bid for the Government funding scheme and will receive £62.6 million to spend on several projects across Sutton and Kirkby.

The sum is the highest of any local authority area in the country and is £12.6 million above the £50 million threshold initially set.

The heart of the bid includes three major employment and skills hubs, creating centres for automated distribution and manufacturing, construction, and civil engineering.

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These centres will cost about £19 million, £2.1 million and £7 million respectively.

The Towns Fund investment will also bring ‘gateway’ developments in north and west Kirkby, a sports hub on Sutton Lawn, leisure improvements at King’s Mill Reservoir, a science discovery centre at Sherwood Observatory, and several other projects.

Now the Government is expected to provide the council with £3.13 million to develop the projects and business cases involved with the bid.

This is around five per cent of the overall sum, with £2.87 million to be used to launch 17 projects outlined in the bid.

However, Councillor Matthew Relf (Ash Ind), the authority’s regeneration cabinet member, says many projects won’t take shape for several years.

Schemes will start “popping up all around the place” from 2022 and 2023, he says, adding there are several stages the council must pass before receiving the full funding.

“Everyone has seen the exciting announcements of this funding and are desperate to start seeing the output of this,” he said.

“As much as I’m extremely excited and enthusiastic about this funding, we do need to temper peoples’ expectations slightly.

“It is an awful lot of money, and there are a lot of steps to make sure we’re spending it right and appropriately.”

The council has already received some Government funding through the Accelerated Towns Fund, helping to deliver the new indoor market in Lowmoor Road, Kirkby.

The authority will also receive £6.2 million from the Future High Streets Fund, with this bid including a new ‘Maker Space’ in Sutton and a theatre at Sutton Community Academy.

Cllr Jason Zadrozny, leader of the authority, added: “I know we’re managing expectations, but I think we’re acting quite quickly.

“People are starting to see things happen already but it’s going to be a slow burn.

“Some of the big projects require a lot of change and are going to take years and years, but we have the money, we’ve got the project and this is happening.”

The early release of the Towns Fund cash will be included within the council’s capital programme budget.

Cllr Relf, the authority’s chief executive and the council officer have also been granted delegated powers to allocate funding and approve business cases, once the early release funding has been received.

This will be done in consultation with the Discover Ashfield board.

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