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Martin Rigley, Cllr Jason Zadrozny, and Theresa Hodgkinson, CEO stand in front of Ashfield road sign

Up to £3.2 million investment is heading to Ashfield

Ashfield District Council, and partners, have submitted an investment plan to unlock up to £3.2million from the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund to invest across the District.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund will fund projects based on the three themes set out by the government, which are communities, local business, and skills. The aim of the fund is to improve the places that people live in, support high quality training and skills to increase people’s access to employment and better pay, and actively support local businesses to help them thrive, grow, and innovate.

Stakeholder sessions were held in June to gather ideas and views before the plans were presented to the Discover Ashfield Board for approval. A list of 170 project ideas was reviewed and scored to create the final shortlist.

Over £380,000 of the fund is planned to be invested into several projects by the end of March 2023. These include help and support for businesses to increase productivity, adapt to automation, access markets overseas, and reduce energy bills.

Cllr Jason Zadrozny, Leader of Ashfield District Council, said:

“The investment plan for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is fantastic and I can’t wait to see all the projects roll out. Thanks to the team at the Council, who have pulled the plan together within a challenging timescale, we’re now starting to develop the projects ready for delivery. I’m particularly pleased that we have a range of projects which will be delivered across the District, including help and support for businesses who are struggling with the rising costs of energy bills.”  

The projects will now be developed with local partners, ready for delivery to start when the government gives the green light which is expected later in the year.

A summary of the projects being funded is provided below:

Supporting Local Businesses

Supporting businesses to become more productive, more competitive and/or to enter new markets by adopting new (to company) technologies. The projects include:

  • Retail Enterprise Grant - grants to improve town centre retail properties across all of Ashfield’s town centres.
  • Shop Front Improvements – engage students to design and then manufacture new shop fronts for town centre retail businesses.
  • Decarbonisation - technical and grant support for low carbon, energy reducing initiatives for SMEs.
  • Pre-opening support / engagement activity for the ADMC (Automated Distribution and Manufacturing Centre). The ADMC is Ashfield's £30m flagship Towns Fund project which will support the adoption, integration, and expansion of new automated technologies amongst local and regional businesses to improve productivity and competitiveness.
  • High Pavement House Business Hub, Sutton - creation of a new business hub as a focus for entrepreneurial activity in Ashfield which will offer a range of business support services. The Council has purchased the building and it’s being re-purposed as part of the Future High Streets Fund. Reduced rental incentives for offices within the hub will also be made available.
  • Trading Overseas Programme – funded programme to support SMEs to identify new markets, attend overseas trade shows, trade finding missions, meeting buyers and suppliers

District-wide projects

Projects to improve the area for residents include:

  • Financial resilience support for local communities – helping people with money management and supporting them to improve their financial wellbeing.
  • Cycling and Walking for All - walking and cycling training, support for vulnerable and isolated adults through doorstep walking programmes, cycling refurbishment and distributing low cost/free bicycles to Ashfield residents.
  • Access to community allotments, and dividing allotments into manageable sizes.
  • Community Vertical Farming initiative – establishment of a facility, delivered by Nottingham Trent University, promoting healthier eating and sustainable buying as well as allowing local residents to engage with cutting-edge food production technology.
  • Digital support for local communities - community based digital support for access to technology, advice, and skills development to reduce digital exclusion. This will enable residents to complete digital tasks such as benefit claims, doctor appointments, self-referral support, and to keep safe online.

There are several projects included within the programme that are providing match funding for existing or new projects. These include further support for the Safer Streets Fund initiatives which are improving safety in Kirkby and Hucknall town centres; improvements to Selston Country park to create a destination park in the rurals; and funding for a Kings Mill Reservoir ranger to develop a range of activities at the reservoir.

Funding for Skills

This funding becomes available in the final year of the programme, from April 2024 onwards and is designed to replace the programmes previously supported by European funding. Projects include:

  • Basic Skills Courses – a universal course offer including basic skills (digital, English, maths (via Multiply) and ESOL - English to Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Education and business collaboration package offering a structured work placement scheme and enhanced Careers Service in schools.
  • Talent attraction and retention package to include graduate talent match programme with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire universities and a Local Careers Service – targeting residents in employment and preparing them to move into priority sectors
  • Establishment of a Training/Careers Hub - a space for skills partners and DWP to deliver their recruitment, careers and skills provision.

Cllr Matthew Relf, Executive Lead Member for Regeneration and Corporate Transformation added:

“This fund will provide the flexibility we need to develop and deliver projects and programmes across the District. Previous funds, such as Towns Fund and the Future High Streets Fund, were restrictive and areas such as Hucknall and the Rurals missed out.
“We will be able to support those most in need and help people to access training and better paid jobs. It will also support some of the Towns Fund projects with early investment.”

Martin Rigley MBE, Chair of Discover Ashfield said:

“I’m so proud of the work we are doing as a partnership. There are over 20 organisations represented on the board and it goes from strength to strength, together we have developed an exciting programme of projects for each of the three themes, which will bring benefits to many businesses and communities.”