To receive the report of the Head of Communities & Place.
The Economic Development Officer presented the report, the purpose of which was to obtain Member approval for the Torridge District Council Rural Prosperity Fund investment plan to be submitted to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) by November 30th, 2022.
A slide presentation was delivered highlighting the salient points of the fund.
Members were informed that the Fund had been launched unexpectedly by DEFRA and is designed as a top-up to the Shared Prosperity Fund. All of Torridge is eligible for this Fund. It is a capital grant scheme which focuses on support for new and existing rural businesses to develop new products and facilities that will be of wider benefit to the local economy. It includes farm businesses looking to diversify income streams. It is also to support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.
The presentation also included:
· The allocation to Torridge – only for capital spend with no additional revenue funds allocated to manage this budget
The Economic Development Officer informed Members of an amendment to the timetable:
“Submission to Full Council for approval - ND Council to be presented to Full Council 23 November and not 3 November.”
Councillor C Cottle-Hunkin declared an interest – part of a farming family
Councillor J Manley declared an interest - Director of North Devon+.
Councillor K James declared an interest – Director of North Devon+
Councillor Newton raised a concern regarding the funding allocation to Gt. Torrington Pannier Market as this is a building owned by Torridge which is in poor repair. The Economic Development Officer addressed this concern and explained that Torridge had identified strategic community infrastructure schemes that aid regeneration where no alternative grant funding was likely to be forthcoming.
Councillor Christie referred to the recommendation in relation to the costs involved in managing this scheme and requested sight of the figures when available. He gave his support to the funding towards Victoria Park and mentioned that Bideford Bridge Trust and Bideford Town Council have monies in their budget towards Victoria Park. The Economic Development Officer said there had been lack of clarity as to how much had assigned from them and a request has been made to them for further information.
When debating this matter, other concerns/comments raised included:
· Lack of benefits to other areas in the district
· Gt Torrington Pannier Market and Victoria Park being previously removed from the budget. There will be economic benefit in including the two schemes.
· Questioned whether this funding scheme will come to fruition.
· Monies set aside from outside bodies for play equipment in Victoria Park and other play parks.
The Head of Communities & Place advised that a scheme guidance needed to be developed with the possibility of having an upper amount and if above this the project would be referred back to Full Council.
It was proposed by Councillor Hames, seconded by Councillor Jones that individual votes be taken on Great Torrington Market Hall and Victoria Park.
Following further discussion on the above proposal, Councillor Hames withdrew his proposal.
It was proposed by Councillor Cottle-Hunkin, seconded by Councillor Langford and –
That the Rural Prosperity Fund Addendum plan for Torridge District Council to be submitted before 30th November, 2022 be approved.
That ND+ be identified as the preferred delivery partner for a LEADER-style scheme and request further costing details be provided to understand management costs and implications to TDC / Shared Prosperity Fund management budgets.
That Great Torrington Market Hall and Victoria Park projects to the Capital programme for delivery be added.
(Vote: For – 30, Against – 2, Abstentions – 1)
Councillor Ford had left the room and did not take part in the vote.