At last week’s meeting of cabinet Monmouthshire County Council confirmed that it would be resubmitting its two bids for Caldicot and Monmouth in Round 2 of the UK Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund which will re-open in Spring 2022. Both bids were ‘packages’ that included (Caldicot – Leisure centre, public realm and acquisition and refurbishment of town centre property; Monmouth – Establishment of visitor centre at Shire Hall, repurposing of Market Hall and public realm enhancement. An additional transport bid will also be developed around projects identified through the Chepstow Transport Study which will seek to develop an integrated transport hub for the area.
The Levelling Up Fund invests in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.
Transport investments including (but not limited to) public transport, active travel, bridge repairs, bus priority lanes, local road improvements and major structural maintenance, and accessibility improvements. UK Government are requesting proposals for high-impact small, medium and, by exception, larger local transport schemes to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, cut congestion, support economic growth, and improve the experience of transport users.
Regeneration and town centre investment, building on the Towns Fund framework (this fund was not available in Wales) to upgrade eyesore buildings and dated infrastructure, acquire and regenerate brownfield sites, invest in secure community infrastructure and crime reduction, and bring public services and safe community spaces into town and city centres.
Cultural investment maintaining, regenerating, or creatively repurposing museums, galleries, visitor attractions (and associated green spaces) and heritage assets as well as creating new community-owned spaces to support the arts and serve as cultural spaces.
Cabinet members also considered information received on the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which will see each Local Authority given an allocated amount of funding from the £2.6bn fund (UK allocation to March 2025) for its geographical area. Each Local Authority will be required to collaborate in developing Investment Plans detailing how it will deliver its share of the fund which is designed to support Investment Priorities of: Communities and Place; Local Businesses; and People & Skills. A citizen focussed, Local Partnership will also be established to inform the preparation and development of the county’s Investment Plan.
Members also agreed to promote and support local voluntary and community groups to bid into the second round of the £150M Community Ownership Fund, which will run for four years. The purpose of the Fund is to enable voluntary and community organisations to take ownership of assets and amenities at risk of being lost to the community. Voluntary and community organisations can bid for match funding to support the purchase and/or renovation costs of community assets and amenities. Examples include sporting and leisure facilities, theatres and cinemas, museums, galleries, pubs, shops and post office buildings.
Deputy Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Cllr. Sara Jones commented: “Council officers will be developing and resubmitting, where needed, bids for these funds as they become available. The results of those bids will be announced when known. Securing this level of funding is incredibly important as we look to make Monmouthshire the very best place to do business, to live, to grow up in. Ensuring our county has the support it needs for future economic growth and well-being is a core aim of the council.”