Basildon Council Leader Gavin Callaghan and Opposition Leader Councillor Andrew Baggott have united in support of a £100m investment fund to boost to town centre regeneration.

The proposal, which is a recommendation from Policy and Resources Committee, is to be considered at a special meeting of Council on Thursday 8 August.

Councillors will be asked to approve borrowing of up to £100m to buy land or property to support economic and housing development within town centres that will secure their long-term viability and encourage inward investment or skills development.

In addition, Council will consider a proposal to increase the amount that can be borrowed to buy commercial property from £80m to £150m. This separate fund is used to purchase property, mostly outside of the borough, with the express purpose of earning an income to pay for council services and to replace government funding that has been taken away.

Council Leader Gavin Callaghan said: "We've got to be able to move fast, react to opportunities as they arise and above all be bold if we are to achieve the sort of transformational change we want to see in our town centre and across our borough. That's why we need to approve this fund and I am delighted the Leader of the Opposition and I are on the same page on this.

"This is the clearest possible signal of intent. We want to encourage investment in our borough from businesses who share our broad aspirations to develop Basildon as a borough that provides opportunities for all our residents to thrive.

"It is incredibly exciting that this council is reviving the ambition and determination shown to create Basildon new town 70 years ago, to build the next generation Basildon."

Councillor Andrew Baggott said: "Whether in administration or opposition we support ambition and bold thinking for the borough. Everyone wants to see more prosperous and attractive town centres. The council has an important role to play in regenerating areas where the market alone has failed to deliver vital regeneration or transformation.

"Done properly, with due diligence and careful management of risk, we can use the council's ability to borrow funds relatively cheaply to accelerate the regeneration of the borough.

"There is a very important message here that, whatever the colour of the administration of the borough, this council is committed to pushing forward regeneration that creates opportunities for all."

ENDS

Published on Thursday 08 August 2019