MP Derek Thomas, with Emily Kent, Cornwall Council’s Head of Economy, Skills and Culture, has formed a new group which aims to investigate how best West Cornwall can bring prosperity to areas of deprivation through Government investment. This follows a meeting between Derek and the Chancellor where Derek stressed the need for Government to ensure the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund (to succeed European Social and Structural Funds) continues to meet the needs of the most deprived communities including West Cornwall. The Chancellor invites contributions from communities to inform the discussions relating to what criteria should be applied to new funding awards via the proposed Shared Prosperity Programme.
The group, comprising around 20 local business people, stakeholders, Cornwall Council officers and elected representatives, share a commitment to ensuring that areas of deprivation are brought out of poverty into a future with well-paid, sustainable jobs with the help of the Government’s Shared Prosperity Fund, targeting the areas that need it most and using the funds effectively. Meetings occur every 3 months.
18 May, 2018: Derek meets Emily Kent to discuss the proposed group.
13 July, 2018: Inaugural meeting of the West Cornwall Jobs and Growth group is held at Penzance’s St John’s Hall. Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss MP, is the first guest and gives a Government perspective on Shared Prosperity as well as asking the group for further information on how the group feels that Government can help address deprivation in West Cornwall.
12 October, 2018: Group meets to discuss High Street vitality and the barriers to growth in the area; issues raised included the difficulties involved in bringing redundant High Street buildings back into use, the over-valuation of High Street buildings, the importance of a shared community vision and the challenge of attracting sufficient skilled staff to West Cornwall.
2 November, 2018: Derek meets a sub-group to finalise the group’s submission to the West Cornwall.
19 December, 2018: Submission posted to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
18 January, 2019: Emily Kent reports that a bid for Penzance for Future High Street funding stands a chance of being accepted by Cornwall Council to be put forward for funding. Cornwall Council's Growth Team present a detailed report looking at employment, economic activity, housing and deprivation in West Cornwall - the presentation will help inform which areas benefit most from a future Shared Prosperity Fund.
6 February, 2019: Penzance is confirmed by Cornwall Council as the focus for its bid for a share of the Government's £675m Future High Streets Fund. Cornwall Council say Penzance has been selected due to the unique mix of regeneration opportunities available to tackle challenges in the town and which have been supported by local partners and stakeholders, the Penzance Place Shaping Board and Regeneration Group, businesses and community organisations. Proposals for workspace, housing, connectivity, transport, skills and inclusion activity will be considered over the coming weeks to prepare the submission by March 22nd.
15 March, 2019: Derek Thomas writes a letter in support of the bid, saying that the Future High Streets fund represents "a genuine opportunity to drive transformational change in Penzance, unlocking wider investments in the public and private sector, meeting local need for housing, employment and social prosperity".