Question over how £25m Norwich town fund cash will tackle wage inequity
PUBLISHED: 05:50 30 July 2020
Councillors have praised plans for major regeneration schemes if a £25m bid to revamp parts of the city is rewarded - despite questions over wage inequality.
Norwich is one of about 100 cities in with a chance of getting cash from the government’s Town Fund, with details of the council’s bid revealed last week.
The city could see eight projects come to life, including revamping St Andrew’s and Blackfriar’s Hall, creating a new digital hub, and digital and construction centres built at Norwich City College.
And city council meeting held on Wednesday, July 29, councillors backed the plans for the projects, just days ahead of the government July 31 bid deadline for the cash.
But opposition leader Sandra Bogelein asked how the council would ensure schemes addressed wage inequality and benefitted the city’s poorest residents.
Council leader Alan Waters said: “Norwich is not a town but for the purposes of £25m I’m happy to accept the designation.”
He said there was a “small amount” left to do and the bids would be assessed by government over the next 14 months before any cash was given to the council, with the authority’s towns deal board overseeing project delivery.
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He said: “This is a really immense and effective use of up too £25m. At this stage there is no cost to the council but if you added up the number of hours that have been put into this work, it’s been a considerable amount.”
While Mike Stonard added: “You can’t understate the importance of this for the development of our city as we would like to see it.”
But Ms Bogelein, leader of the Green Party group, said: “I’m very supportive of the projects that have been identified in the bid.
“It also states the importance of skills and ambitions as well as addressing wage inequality, and underlines really good initiatives that will create opportunities for employment and self-employment.”
She added: “What strategy will the council deploy to ensure these opportunities are taken up by residents who may be in low wage employment or low skilled and not go to already skilled workers?”
Ellen Tilney economic development manager said: “It will be the job of the towns deal board to deliver every part of this process and I think that’s particularly relevant to skills and infrastructure.”
And Graham Nelson, director of place, said the ideas were rooted in the Norwich 2040 City Vision.
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