£5million boost for town centre regeneration
Rugby town centre’s regeneration strategy is to get a £5million boost, after increased certainty in funding allowed the sum to be released for spending.
The funding will be used to deliver improvements to the town centre physical environment and enhance town centre cctv coverage. Funding will also support businesses, subject to suitable support being identified, and to progress sustainability-focussed projects that support the council’s climate change commitments.
It will also be used to move forward with plans for a voluntary and community sector-led wellbeing hub, and a public sector service hub, which will bring partners together in a joint location.
Options appraisals will look at all council owned sites to identify alternative uses. Furthermore Rugby Borough Council will work with developers and investors to explore under-used assets within the town centre to see if they could be put to better use and where appropriate consider the use of its compulsory purchase order powers to progress regeneration that benefits the town.
The measures support objectives in the borough council’s Town Centre Regeneration Strategy which saw extensive consultation in 2021 and 2022 and was adopted in December.
Cllr Seb Lowe, Leader of Rugby Borough Council, said: “This £5 million is a clear statement of support for our town centre.
With appropriate investment in the physical environment, in town centre businesses and in infrastructure, together with our partners we will make our town a more pleasant and a safer place to be, with more reasons to visit.
“These measures move us a step forward in delivering the regeneration strategy that we adopted last year.”
The £5 million investment will be allocated from the interim retained business rates by the council over the next two years that were previously anticipated to be transferred to the government. The majority of business rates are already transferred to the government annually.
The move has been made possible following the government’s announcement that business rates will continue to be allocated using the current formula until 2025/26, at which point a reduction in business rates retained by the Council is anticipated.
The town centre funding boost is part of Rugby Borough Council’s 2023/24 General Fund budget, which is subject to approval by councillors at Rugby Borough Council’s budget setting meeting next week (22 February).
Other proposals include adjustments to various budgets to take account of historic spending or the end of grant funding, temporary and permanent savings totalling £4.25 million, along with an under-inflation increase of the borough council’s share of the council tax of 2.99 per cent or £6.12 per year for an average Band D property.
It will bring the total amount of Rugby Borough Council’s share of the council tax to £162.82 per year for an average Band D property, plus the town area or parish council amount.
Rugby Borough Council receives just 8p in every pound of council tax, with 76p going to the county council and 13p going to Warwickshire Police. The rest goes to parish councils or the Rugby town area expense.
Cllr Carolyn Robbins, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for finance, performance, legal and governance, said: “The cost of living has impacted the borough council’s budgets by £2.7 million, so it is testament to our continuing financial prudence that we have been able to make savings of £4.2 million and balance our budget with an increase in our council tax of just 12 pence per week for an average Band D property.
“The borough council provides important and popular services including parks and open spaces, waste collection, leisure and cultural facilities, environmental health and community wardens, along with support for our more vulnerable residents.
As with our residents and businesses we have seen large increases in our costs, but also an increase in the need to support residents at risk of homelessness or who have become homeless and need temporary accommodation. I am pleased that we have been able to maintain all of these services and provide the support that our residents need.
Cllr Robbins added: “We know that any increase will be challenging, especially when added to the larger increases from the county council and police, but we hope that residents will be reassured that we have been able to support our most vulnerable residents through additional payments up to £25, through the government’s Council Tax Support Fund.
“We will use this to support around 4100 of our lowest income households who qualify for council tax support.
“This is in addition to our normal council tax reduction scheme, so I would encourage any resident who is struggling to pay their council tax to contact us and see what help may be available.”
Residents can check their entitlement to council tax support or other benefits at www.rugby.gov.uk/benefits. There is more information on help to deal with the rising cost of living at www.rugby.gov.uk/costofliving.
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