Penzance and St Ives are both to receive £500k of funding for projects that will give each town an immediate boost as we look to recover from the effects of the pandemic. The towns are two of four in Cornwall and 100 across the country which have been chosen to benefit from the transformative £3.6 billion Towns Fund, with each area receiving support to produce a bespoke, multi-million-pound ‘Town Deal’ to improve their area.
The Towns Fund itself offers a pot of up to £25m for each town to support projects relating to digital connectivity, transport, skills and culture - the emphasis being on decarbonisation and improved living standards. This initial tranche will enable the Town Deal Boards to make an immediate difference. In June, the Prime Minister said that each of the towns selected for towns deals would be given between £500k and £1 million to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets, and transport, making them more attractive places to be and stimulating the local economy.
The Towns Fund aims to level up and spread opportunity across the country, and this funding will make a massive difference to both Penzance and St Ives. Both Town Boards have identified a number of exciting projects which will accelerate economic growth and make Penzance and St Ives even more attractive places to live and plans are well advanced on how best to use this initial tranche of funding. In Penzance the £500,000 will be spent on bike storage, further improvements to the Prom, a mobility service, outdoor gym equipment and support for the Acorn Theatre. In St Ives the fund delivers the long awaited skatepark and facilities to land and sell fish direct to the public.
The efforts to reopen St Ives Leisure Centre continue and I understand that a date has been set for the centre to reopen in the very near future. However, in my discussions with GLL, who operate most of the leisure centres across Cornwall, two things are clear: the reopening will be partial due to Covid-19 restrictions (which presents an even greater challenge to the viability of the centre) and it is paramount that the local community rallies in support of the centre, joining as members and keeping up the strong show of support.
GLL has agreed to work with me and representatives of the community to find innovative ways to keep the centre viable and open. This is alongside a county-wide leisure review to be conducted by Cornwall Council. Basically, the message will be, in relation to St Ives Leisure Centre, once we get past the coronavirus restrictions use it or risk losing it. For me this means that opening times and pricing at St Ives Leisure Centre must be accessible and this is the work I’ll be engaged with alongside local representatives and GLL.