Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Approval for £72m package to kick start South Yorkshire’s fight back from COVID-19

The Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, the leaders of South Yorkshire’s councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership have approved funding worth £72 million to kick start the region’s fight back from the coronavirus.

At the Mayoral Combined Authority meeting yesterday (November 16), formal approval was given to the Renewal Action Plan (RAP) and a swathe of infrastructure projects, as part of local leader’s proposals to help people, employers and places across South Yorkshire recover from the pandemic.

The RAP, submitted to Ministers in the summer, requires substantial investment and powers from Government at the Spending Review next week (November 25). £75m has already been secured for infrastructure, transport projects and house building as part of the efforts to regenerate the region’s places and create jobs.

However, local leaders have agreed today to use the new ‘gainshare’ money from the landmark devolution deal to accelerate progress and put forward investment in creating new jobs, improving training and skills, backing business to adapt and thrive, and put spades in the ground so South Yorkshire’s towns and city can prosper.

The Mayor continues to press Government to invest in the RAP and the long-term investment South Yorkshire needs to build back better, but today’s announcement brings forward significant funding to breathe confidence into the region’s economy.

The total package includes:

A £5.75m Gainshare Emergency Recovery Fund for the region’s four local councils, to support COVID recovery efforts and local priorities, at the discretion of local authority’s

£16m for the MCA to start delivering strands of the Renewal Action Plan:

This includes an expanded Kickstart scheme, to help adults aged over 25 find training and work, and the creation of an Apprenticeship Training Agency for businesses who want to take on an apprentice, but who are unable to employ them in the current climate.

Extensive business support, including specialist advice, using digital to adapt to the pandemic and brokering opportunities for businesses to enter supply chains and access procurement contracts. Full details of the schemes and the launch to people and businesses will be announced in the near future.

More than £48m of Government funding for a programme of transport and infrastructure upgrades, including:

£40m to start the A630 Parkway Widening scheme, to reduce congestion, allow the free movement of traffic and improve air quality on the route between Junction 33 of the M1 and Sheffield city centre, through the expansion of the existing dual carriageway to a three-lane route.

£4m for the start Heart of the City II in Sheffield, to enhance the city centre by creating three new spaces including a pocket park, a vibrant small square on Carver Street and expansion of the Peace Gardens between the Town Hall and the proposed new hotel on Pinstone Street.

£2.2m for regeneration of Rotherham town centre, to prepare land for commercial development, public realm improvements and new community spaces.

£2m to develop the Century BIC II business park, developing a high-quality, publicly-owned employment site in Rotherham.  The scheme will create around 17,000 sq. ft. of new floor space for office and clean manufacturing “move on” space for growing firms.

£540k of Transforming Cities Fund to develop the business case for a new bridge and highway link at iPort, Doncaster, one of the UK’s biggest logistics hubs, so more people can access employment opportunities by public transport.

Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, said: “While we face significant economic headwinds, local leaders, the business community and I are united in our desire and determination to build back better from the pandemic. We are putting our money where our mouth is, and investing in South Yorkshire’s people, businesses and places to recover and renew.

“In the next 18 months we will help people train and improve their skills, get back to work, back our businesses to adapt and thrive, and continue to revitalise our towns and city centre. Devolution affords us that opportunity and we are able to chart our own course to a stronger, greener and fairer future for everyone in our region.

“I’ll continue to fight for the investment and powers we need to reach that destiny as quickly as possible. This is just the start of our ambition for South Yorkshire, and the Government must match this by making a down payment on the investment we need at next week’s Spending Review.”

Alexa Greaves, CEO of AAG and Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Board Member, said: “The Renewal Action Plan shows what you can do when the public and private sector work together and pull in the same direction. Our businesses across South Yorkshire, even though they have been hit hard during this pandemic, have shown resilience and it’s great to offer them further support and advice to help them adapt to the new normal.

“Businesses, both large and small must be supported to survive, adapt and thrive. We’re working with the Mayor and local authority leaders to show that South Yorkshire is a hub of creativity and innovation, and South Yorkshire is open for business. We now need the Government to show the same ambition and back us in the Spending Review.”

Councillor Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council said: “I am delighted that we’ve been able to secure this major investment in three diverse, but equally significant projects for the regeneration of Rotherham. At a time of great uncertainty for the local and national economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this is most welcome news.

“The Parkway Widening Scheme will cut journey times, ease congestion and benefit the environment on the main route linking Rotherham, Sheffield and the M1, providing better access to current and future major employment sites.

“Funding for delivery of the next phase of our Town Centre Masterplan will help improve the look and feel of our town centre as we move away from an almost exclusive retail offer to an attractive mix which also includes leisure, open space, employment and housing. And the investment in phase 2 of Century Business Park will create additional office and clean manufacturing space, with the aim of creating more than 100 new jobs.”

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