A MULTI-MILLION pound regeneration fund to help grow the East Riding economy is being developed by the council.
Council leader Stephen Parnaby is considering plans to use a significant share of the authority’s reserves to create a fund used to support projects that help create jobs.
Coun Parnaby has not yet put a figure on the size of the pot but has indicated it will run into several million pounds.
One of main focuses of the fund is expected to be Bridlington and the delivery of the existing proposals for redevelopment in the town.
Coun Parnaby said: “I want the East Riding to be in a position to maximise future initiatives and have asked council officers to look at our reserves with a view to releasing a substantial amount to form a regeneration fund.
“A large part of the fund will be used in the regeneration and delivery of the Area Action Plan for Bridlington, continuing the investment already made and still very much needed.”
The Bridlington regeneration scheme was dealt a significant blow last year when supermarket Tesco abandoned plans to build a new store in the town.
Tesco was expected to move its Bridlington store to a new location allowing the existing site to be turned into a new shopping development but the company put the idea on hold as part of a wider review of its strategy.
The council believes putting some of its reserves into a regeneration fund would help it to attract cash for economic projects from other sources, such as the European Regional Development Fund, which expect their contributions to be matched.
The budget agreed by East Riding Council earlier this month already includes £9 million from the authority’s reserves going into day to day spending.
The bulk will be used to support adult and children’s social care as the authority deals with cuts in Government funding in commong with councils across the region.
In a further effort to help the local economy, the authority is also proposing a new grants “Help Our High Streets” grant scheme to support town centres across the district.
It will follow the example set nationally by the Government which has given grants to support high streets following a report by retail guru and television personality Mary Portas.
Coun Parnaby said: “During visits to several areas that benefited from what became known as Portas grants, I have seen some real improvements from a relatively small amount of grant money. Communities have become involved and benefited.
“I am now seeking to introduce a similar grant scheme across the East Riding with some form of matched funding to benefit local economies.
“I have asked council officers to look at a scheme and how it could be funded and am confident this can be a good way of giving further support to local enterprises and communities.”
in a separate move, councillors at last Tuesday’s meeting of the cabinet backed business by agreeing to adopt a tax break scheme for retailers.
Business rate relief worth up to £1,000 will be made available to all occupied retail properties in the East Riding with a rateable value of £50,000 or less.
East Riding’s proposals for a new pot of cash to support economic investment has parallels with York Council’s creation of an economic infrastructure fund two years ago.
The £28.5 million fund has been used to support a wide range of projects designed to support growth in York’s economy including city centre improvements.
Last year, the authority announced £10m from the fund would be used to help kickstart a major redevelopment project known as York Central which stalled at the height of the credit crunch.