Ms Sarah Nurden, Strategic Programme Manager, was in attendance for this item.
1. Ms Nurden introduced the report and said a key decision was required to enable grant agreements to be entered into by the Council, should the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) Accountability Board award funding to Kent-based Getting Building Funding (GBF) projects.
2. Ms Nurden and Mr Jones responded to the following questions and comments from Members:
(a) Asked about the funding for Discovery Park, Ms Nurden said the Council, as the accountable body, had legal agreements for the existing projects with SELEP and funding was passed on to third parties, and in the case of Discovery Park this was Discovery Park Ltd.
(b) Asked about Thanet Parkway Railway Station, Mr Jones said the SELEP funding would relieve some of the financial pressures across the project. Members noted the positive impacts of the station including shorter journey times into London, the benefit of the station on Discovery Park and the scientific businesses based there, and on local residents and commuters.
(c) Asked how potential projects for the funding were identified, Ms Nurden said the Getting Building Fund was announced by government in 2020 and project proposals with full costings were submitted to SELEP within a short timeframe of seven days. The Council provided information on how to submit project ideas to district councils, businesses (via the Business Advisory Board), universities and further education colleges in Kent and there was an open call for projects on the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) website. The opportunity to bid was also disseminated internally to KCC officers.
(d) Mr Jones said work carried out with districts and boroughs in preparedness for Investment Zones had provided significant opportunities in understanding how to prepare compelling arguments to government to support any future bids.
3. The Chair thanked all those involved in securing this additional funding for Kent.
RESOLVED that the proposal that the Leader of the Council agrees that the Getting Building Funding (GBF) will be used to support the Kent-based projects that are awarded additional GBF by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Accountability Board; and delegates to the Section 151 Officer the authority to sign on KCC’s behalf a deed of variation to the original grant agreement or equivalent, where this is required to draw down funds following business case approval, be endorsed.