It is essential that councilors and communities are involved in how £25.5million of UK government funds are spent in Denbighshire, says a concerned councillor.
Working with other North Wales councils, Denbighshire plans to invest the money in the ‘three pillars’ of people and skills, supporting local businesses, communities and place.
But Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts appeared unconvinced and wondered how Denbighshire could ask for such large sums of money without specifying exactly how it was spent in the report.
“What are our priorities? If this train is the only train in town, we need to make sure we are ready,” said Cllr Hilditch Roberts.
“It appears in the document that there is a lot around the structure but not a lot of focus on what we are going to get for our money.
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Chief Cllr Jason McLellan replied: “I guess that indicates where we are, that it’s the regional investment plan, and that’s the first step, and then we’ll go deeper.”
Council Officer Liz Grieve explained.
“The document focuses on structure because we are asking Cabinet to support the proposal in terms of the regional manager, but I would say that actually the way we have developed the regional investment plan is bottom-up, rather than downward,” she says.
“So we looked at what our local priorities are and what we would like to deliver locally first, and after that we will look to see where we have priorities in common with neighboring authorities and where that could be more effective or more impactful. work at sub-regional or regional level, but this largely stems from local needs in the first place.
“This fund is built on three pillars: people and skills, support for local businesses, and communities and place. We believe just over 40% of the investment will go into communities and the theme of the place, so it’s really about local communities and investing in local communities. »
Advisors were told that there was no requirement to involve advisors at this stage of the application process.
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Cllr Huw Hilditch-Roberts said it was essential that local councilors and communities were involved in deciding where and how the money was spent.
“Sometimes, I think, the priorities of paid staff and local communities are very different,” he said.
“I think we (advisors) are the link between the two.”
Advisers also debated whether the Welsh government was being “bypassed” in talks over the fund, as talks only involved the UK government and councils.
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Councilors voted unanimously to approve the report.
It was also agreed that Denbighshire’s Chief Executive and Principal Member for Economic Growth would be given delegated authority to take the bid forward in terms of deciding on priorities.
Gwynedd County Council will now act as the lead body for submitting the regional investment strategy to the UK government.
The next step in the application process will then require more details on how the funds will be spent in each county.