To consider the report of the Director of Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed) and receive a presentation from the Lead Specialist Prosperity.
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance informing Members of new opportunities presented by the UK Government’s Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF).
The report gave some background information regarding the REPF. It was noted that the REPF prospectus had been published and confirmed that the Maldon District had been allocated £430,328 to be spent by March 2025. The funding could be used to support capital projects for small businesses and community infrastructure. Further details regarding phase one of the process being undertaken were set out in the report and Members were advised that phase two would involve development of an application and awards process.
Members received a presentation from the Lead Specialist: Prosperity which provided further detail regarding the REPF.
Councillor A S Fluker declared an interest in this item of business advising that as there was no public speaking at this event this had precluded him from speaking and he would leave the meeting on the understanding that he hoped a Member would ask a question on his behalf. Councillor Fluker then left the meeting.
Councillor W Stamp read a short statement from Councillor Fluker which referred to Southminster Community Centre and Sports Pavilion which had recently been granted planning permission. The statement requested that Officers meet with Councillor Fluker, the Ward Member, to discuss the community project, this request was duly agreed by the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance.
In response to questions raised, the Lead Specialist Prosperity provided Members with additional information regarding the Fund, including:
· The Council is looking a minimum and maximum grant levels to ensure the monies were spread evenly across the District. It was expected that there would be strict criteria put in place.
· Funding would not be received until 1 April 2023 and it was understood that this could not be used in advance but could be used to cover spending completed in arrears.
· Frequently Asked Questions were awaited from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and it was hoped that this information would assist Officers in completing the investment plan. Members were advised that Officers had chased this information on a number of occasions, specifically as there was a very short deadline for the Council to submit its investment plan.
Councillor Mrs P A Channer proposed that herself (as Leader of the Council) and the Directors approach DEFRA to request the Frequently Asked Questions. The Chairman suggested that this could be discussed outside of the meeting.
Councillor Fluker returned to the Chamber at this point and further discussion of the report continued.
Councillor K M H Lagan thanked the Lead Specialist Prosperity for the report and work she had done, commenting on the benefit the initiative would have. He then proposed an amendment to recommendation (ii) to include the Leader of the Opposition. This proposal was duly seconded and agreed.
The Chairman then put the amended recommendation to the Committee which was duly agreed.
(i) That Members note the opportunity presented for investment in the District by the Rural England Support Fund and the Council’s role in securing the investment and any administration;
(ii) That Members note the aggressive pace of work required to submit the Council’s Rural England Prosperity Fund Addendum Investment Plan and delegate the authority to the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance in consultation with the Leader of the Council, Leader of the Opposition and Chairman of Strategy and Resources Committee for development and submission in line with the Government guidance. Members will be provided with a further written update.