Calderdale Council gives green light for millions of pounds to be invested into the borough

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Millions of pounds worth of “serious investment” will be coming to Calderdale after senior councillors agreed to accept grants from several streams of funding.

Successful bids and awards from several different Government pots of money will now be used to help improve, regenerate and support people in the borough’s towns and also areas where help is needed most.

With an eye on the rising cost of living crisis, some money is also being available to help improve people’s numeracy skills, including parents who it is hoped will then be able to help hone their children’s understanding of financial issues too.

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The recommendations to Calderdale Council’s Cabinet read quite “dry” on paper but if the pages did not fully convey a sense of excitement there is no doubt the end results would be important when the money was put to use, said Coun Jane Scullion.

View of Halifax, from Beacon HillView of Halifax, from Beacon Hill
View of Halifax, from Beacon Hill

Coun Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), the council’s Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, said the funding would be transformative.

“This is serious investment in our towns and will make people feel proud of the places they live in.

“It is very exciting times,” she said.

Among towns and areas in Calderdale which will benefit are Halifax, Elland, Sowerby Bridge and wards in North Halifax – areas which were not able to access other recent funding pots which will see money being spent in Brighouse and Todmorden (from the Towns Fund) and Hebden Bridge (a major Flood Alleviation Scheme with another recently completed in Mytholmroyd and one on the way in Brighouse).

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Halifax Borough MarketHalifax Borough Market
Halifax Borough Market

Although Calderdale has won or been awarded these funds, Cabinet had to vote to accept it and delegate powers to key officers and Cabinet members to unlock the cash, which can now be used.

Cabinet members endorsed an approach to using £2.76 million of UK Shared Prosperity Fund money and £341,000 of Multiply funding – a Government programme to improve people’s numeracy skills, and to accept the awards.

For UKSPF cash – formerly European money, now lesser in amount but nonetheless welcome, said Coun Scullion – the preferred option currently is to use the local allocation to support targeted activity in the areas of greatest need, in Ovenden, Mixenden, Illingworth, Park, Warley and Boothtown wards, areas which have not been eligible for Towns Fund money.

The Multiply work will also help people cope with the cost of living crisis.

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Victoria TheatreVictoria Theatre
Victoria Theatre

Cabinet members also accepted and approved a “gainshare” grant award of £1.89 million to help ensure it is able to deliver future projects and programmes.

The Government is channelling this through West Yorkshire Combined Authority to develop schemes that meet the six investment priorities of the authority – of which Calderdale is a member.

These include providing good jobs and supporting resilient businesses in the region, ensuring skills and training and delivered, ensuring infrastructure is in place, tackling the climate emergency, developing future transport schemes and supporting cultural and creative industries, which align with Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin’s goals.

Funding is particularly aimed at delivering the Calderdale element of the next phases of both an employment hub, helping young people find work, training or apprenticeships, and a business growth hub, supporting businesses of all types from start-ups to established.

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Jane ScullionJane Scullion
Jane Scullion

Cabinet also approved accepting key Future High Streets Fund and Heritage Action Zone grants, for which the council will then be the accountable body for £18 million worth of projects which range from developing Halifax’s Victoria Theatre, Borough Market and street scene improvements (£11.7 million for the town as a whole) and developing projects in Elland (£6.3 million) which range from pedestrianisation of Southgate to improving public realm areas (both FHSF), and capital works for Sowerby Bridge (HAZ) worth £1.9 million.

In Halifax, a key element of the public realm funding will be linking up more parts of the town centre with the Piece Hall and Westgate so all businesses benefit, said leader of the council.