Preston looks set to prepare bid for share of £3.6bn Government Towns Fund

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Preston could reap the benefits of bidding for funding from a £3.6bn Government pot.

The city is one of 101 places invited to put together a Town Deal proposal to claim a share of the money.

Preston Town Hall

Preston Town Hall

It comes as Central Government has developed the Towns Fund “to drive the economic regeneration of towns to deliver long term economic and productivity growth”.

Leader of Preston City Council, coun Matthew Brown said: “We are thrilled to be on the list of places eligible for the Towns Fund and are ready to move quickly in securing this investment in the city.

“While we are not short on ideas for boosting jobs and inclusive economy, we will be engaging with residents and businesses to ensure that the right initiatives are included in the Town Investment Plan.

“We look forward to working with the Government alongside our public and private sector partners in ensuring that the Towns Fund delivers the best possible outcomes for Preston.”

A report coming before the City Council’s Cabinet states: “While the prospectus states that ‘investment of up to £25m in each place’ will be made available there is no guidance yet as to how this can be accessed.

“It is expected that the funding will be predominantly for capital schemes and will be drawn down on a case by case basis based on a detailed evidenced based business case which will need to demonstrate for example, a strong benefit cost ratio, private sector match funding, delivery against the Towns Fund vision, robust delivery plans and value for money for the public purse.”

At Wednedsay's meeting at Town Hall the Cabinet is being asked to approve £173,029 from the Government which is to go towards preparation costs to allow a new Town Deal Board to prepare a proposal for the funding.

The report also says: “Community engagement and communication is important and the governance and decision making structures need to be made public, including how the Board will engage with stakeholders and how the capacity fund will be spent.

“The prospectus also confirms that places need to ‘engage with communities to find out what they love about their place and how they want it to grow’.”

The Board will then oversee the development of a Town Investment Plan (TIP) which will need to be ready by summer 2020.