24 August 2012

Kick-starting the local economy by cutting through red tape to launch infrastructure schemes will be discussed at a meeting of Northamptonshire County Council cabinet next week.

A report will show how the economic recession has left the county council in a Catch-22 situation where infrastructure such as roads are needed to support economic growth but the economic growth itself is needed to pay for the infrastructure.

As a result the authority proposes to cut the red tape surrounding capital projects so that the private and public sector can work together more easily to find innovative ways to unlock funding as well as attracting new investment.

Cllr Jim Harker, Leader of the county council, said: “One of the key aims of the county council is to create the conditions necessary to facilitate economic growth and demonstrate that Northamptonshire is open for business.

“What we can do is act as a catalyst to create the confidence required to kick-start the local economy.

“All parties involved, both from the public and private sectors, have the same goal, which is to see economic growth. Therefore it makes sense to work together towards this mutual objective.”

So far, three schemes that could be kick-started through innovative funding have been identified:

  • A45 Northampton to Daventry Development Link
  • A43 improvements – Phase 1 Moulton Bypass
  • WEAST Railway Bridge and Midland Road Link - a new bridge link over the Midland Main Line railway and is the key to providing access into the heart of the Wellingborough East development area.

Appropriate infrastructure, whether it is widespread superfast broadband or an adequate network of roads, boosts business growth by providing better connections between areas and extra capacity for the transfer of goods and services. It also increases business confidence which in turn attracts further investment.

In addition it creates jobs in the local economy, provides numerous apprenticeships under the County Council’s incentive apprenticeship scheme, and takes advantage of the very good value for money that tendering contractors are able to offer at the present moment.

Ways of forward-funding projects could include seeking investment from private developers or third parties as well as from the Government’s Growing Places Fund which was established especially for such interventions.

Funding could also come from Section 106 developer contributions, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the New Homes Bonus.