By Peter Makossah
His Majesty’s UK government has approved £7 million in funding for improvements for local transport, housing and skills programmes in Derby and Nottingham in the East Midlands
The funding, which has been given the greenlight is part of an early investment offered to the two cities as part of devolution negotiations and it is in anyway dependent on devolution proposals going ahead.
It is part of £18 million on offer from the Government to the region for investment in different projects supporting local priorities, which relate to housing, the environment, infrastructure, skills, and transport in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby, and Nottingham.
Derbyshire County Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Derby City Council and Nottingham City Council have been working with the Government on devolution plans including a package of local powers and funding worth £1.14 billion, from 2024. If the plans go ahead, it will also mean a new regional mayor.
The leaders of the four councils signed up to work on a devolution deal on 30 August this year at Rolls Royce in Derby. Since August, the councils have developed a more detailed proposal, which includes more information about how devolution would work in our area. The proposal was the subject of a public consultation, which took place from 14 November 2022 to 9 January 2023.
Ben Bradley MP, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “It’s great that we’ve got the go ahead for these local programmes, and I hope that we will soon get approval on these other important projects.
“More affordable housing, tackling homelessness, cycle paths and foot paths, a multi-million-pound green skills programme; they are all important, and needed for our area.
“I’m really pleased that devolution will pay-off in the short term as well as the long term, to directly benefit local people.
“We’ve been working together to get these projects funded, and we’ve got confirmation that they can become a reality. Fantastic news.
Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council, said: “The approval of these projects is a solid example of the benefits that devolution is bringing to our region.
“These schemes will make a measurable difference to people’s quality of life through opportunities to gain new skills, environmental and health benefits from walking and cycling, better housing, and new infrastructure.
“This is the East Midlands levelling up, and finally getting the benefits that we have missed in the past.”
The programmes which are being funded are:
- £750,000 for a new cycling and walking route in Derbyshire, a 1¼ mile link connecting Markham Vale to the existing cycle route in Staveley.
- £1.5 million for the new roundabout on the A6 at Fairfield in Buxton, Derbyshire, allowing access to housing development land. The roundabout provides access to sites for 461 new homes, including 30% classified as affordable. It also brings work to an area of social deprivation. This work has been completed, with the funding which has just been approved going towards the cost.
- £1.5 million for a new growth through green skills. The investment will enable the creation of a new £5.4 million flagship skills centre and low carbon demonstrator in our region, to be operated by West Nottinghamshire College, as well as two electric minibuses for getting students to and from the site, to support the growth of a future low carbon economy as we work towards net zero.
- £2 million for a new long-term private rental scheme to address homelessness in Nottingham City and Derby City and reduce the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for housing.
- £1.22 million for more affordable housing in Derby City, where there is currently a shortage, to provide 15 extra social houses to be let at an affordable rent. It will mean less reliance on temporary bed and breakfast placements and shorter waiting times for longer-term accommodation.
Other regeneration and net zero projects are also in the pipeline, with decisions on these expected soon.
Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council, said: “We want to make the most of every penny so this can be used to make a real difference to people’s lives, and the approval of these projects is just the start of bringing that to fruition.
“The East Midlands has long been overlooked in terms of funding. This deal can offer Derby and our wider region real opportunities for much needed investment, which we are starting to see already.”
David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “It’s important that we reduce the number of homeless families and individuals in B&Bs and support them into housing, so it is great that this £2 million will help create a new long-term private rental scheme in Nottingham City and Derby City.
“This is just the start of the investment the region would get with this deal. Devolution gives us the opportunity to bring in more money and to fund more projects like these for the benefit of Nottingham and the whole region.
“We will continue to champion the city and the East Midlands area to get the investment we need. The Devolution deal collectively will help create jobs and training opportunities and improve transport infrastructure and create more homes for local people.”
Devolution would mean a new guaranteed funding stream for our region of £38 million a year over a 30-year period. Covering Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby, and Nottingham, the devolved area would cover around 2.2 million people, making it one of the biggest in the country.
The devolution deal includes an extra £16 million for new homes on brownfield land and control over a range of budgets like the Adult Education Budget, which could be better tailored to the needs of people in our communities.
The regional mayor would lead a new combined authority, which would include representatives from existing local councils, with decision making powers and resources moving from London to the East Midlands. Local businesses would also have a voice, as well as other organisations.
Devolution would not mean scrapping or merging local councils, which would all continue to exist as they do now and would still be responsible for most public services in the area. The mayor and combined authority would instead focus on wider issues like transport, regeneration, and employment across both cities and counties.
“More affordable housing, tackling homelessness, cycle paths and foot paths, a multi-million-pound green skills programme; they are all important, and needed for our area.Ben Bradley MP, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council