24/07/18: £1.5m to be invested in community projects
Breckland Council members have approved plans to invest £1.5m in a range of community projects across the district.
At a meeting of the council's Cabinet today (24 July), councillors supported the plans which will improve local leisure facilities, boost small businesses, and help people into higher paid employment.
Among the series of agreed proposals are plans for the council to take ownership of vacant shops and then lease them at reduced rent rates to start-up businesses; the creation of a new 'Dragons Den'-style grant scheme to support local entrepreneurs; and extra help for people to make the most of local employment opportunities through the provision of travel bursaries or moped hire.
Another scheme aims to improve connections between local businesses and local residents by employing new staff to liaise between companies, schools and job centres. They will help to identify a skills shortfall among local businesses and encourage the necessary training to be offered to enable local people to make the most of the employment opportunities and to support businesses to grow.
Other projects will look at opportunities to bring improved leisure services to Attleborough and Swaffham - such as improved gym facilities, a climbing wall and astro turf football pitch.
Approval of the proposals means the majority of the £1.7m funding set aside by councillors in the 2018/19 budget has now been allocated to projects, though a further £1.4m is set to be invested in community projects in 2019/20.
Cllr William Nunn, Breckland Council's Leader, commented: "Approval for this range of projects is fantastic news for our district's residents and businesses. At the start of the year we set aside a considerable amount of money to be invested in our communities and the vast range of schemes given approval today will mean that money makes a big difference locally. These initiatives will improve local facilities and services, support people to access better jobs, and help existing and new businesses to succeed."
The projects given support by Cabinet include:
- Breckland Council to take control of vacant shops and lease them at reduced rents to start-up units businesses
- Launch of a 'Dragons' Den' scheme to help fund local entrepreneurs
- Create grant schemes to help people into employment, for example through travel bursaries or moped hire
- Offer a digital skills training programme to upskill residents and help them access better employment opportunities
- Hold studies into the development of leisure services in Attleborough and Swaffham, including gym facilities, climbing wall and astro turf football pitches
- Fund two Employment Support Officers for two years to work with DWP and act as a liaison between schools/further education and employers
- Further investment into the council's existing Market Towns Initiative, which encompasses projects to help local towns and villages to thrive
- Extra investment in customer services support, including to help residents transition to the Universal Credit scheme
- Expand an existing contract to provide additional collections of dog waste bins and dog warden services
Following approval from Cabinet, these proposed projects will now be progressed further and developed before being implemented. Due to the value of some of the schemes, some projects will be presented to Full Council for their final approval at a future meeting.
The Cabinet minutes paper can be downloaded from Breckland Council's website (item 11) here