£28m infrastructure package designed to breathe life into city

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A PACKAGE of measures worth more than £28m is set to reduce congestion and boost economic growth in York.

City of York Council has approved the Economic Infrastructure Fund (EIF) which will help to stimulate investment over the next five years.

The fund, which will have a total value of £28.5m, will focus on five key themes: Get York Moving, Digital York, Reinvigorate York, Economic Inclusion York and Sustainable Economy York.

The EIF will come from two sources; the New Homes Bonus (NHB) and Prudential Borrowing.

Around £8.5m will come from NHB, which is received from the Government if councils bring new properties back into use or have new homes built in their area. The Prudential Borrowing of around £20m is expected to come from the public works loan board.

Council leader James Alexander said: “We believe this is the most significant direct investment our council has ever made into the local economy and our measures have the backing of the chamber of commerce and the chair of York’s private sector-led economic partnership.

“These measures will improve transport systems, which will get congestion down. It will help economic growth by investing in the public realm. We want to get people from poorer backgrounds back into employment and help to create new businesses. We want to provide super fast broadband for 95 per cent of homes.

“We want to have wifi in schools, libraries and going into parks. It’s not been easy to access public sector cash, but in York we are trying to be masters of our own destiny. We want to invest in growth and create jobs.”

Susie Cawood, head of York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday: “The EIF is an exciting opportunity for the city of York. Private sector growth is critical to the recovery and future sustainability of the local economy and this initiative will help drive the growth of all business across all sectors.

“Continued investment in the city is essential if we are to remain competitive and continue to attract inward investment, new businesses and skilled work- ers.

“The council’s proposals for the fund will allow the city to build on existing successes.”

Last month, Sheffield revealed it was planning to launch a £30m investment fund to kick-start economic development schemes.

The city council plans to borrow against some of its property assets to help pay for infrastructure improvements, which it hopes will encourage more private sector investment.