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The Leader of the Council introduced the item and reminded Members that the Council was committed to supporting the local economy, businesses and town centres through the Enterprise Elmbridge Action Plan 2015-2017 and the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund (ECIF) in order to help ensure that Elmbridge remained an attractive place to do business.
The Cabinet was advised that ECIF had been set up in 2009 with an initial contribution of £1 million from the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme (LABGI). The fund was designed to benefit the local economy, enhance the attractiveness of the shopping centres and attract people to use local businesses.
The Portfolio Holder updated that the grant element of the scheme had initially been set up to run until March 2011 however following its initial success it had since been extended until March 2014 and then to March 2017. To date, ECIF had supported 218 projects totalling £571,474 in grant funding and there was a current balance of £323,000 in the ECIF budget.
As a result of the Leader of Surrey County Council’s announcement in July 2015 regarding an annual £1 million fund to support investment in Surrey’s secondary shopping centres over the next four years, the Cabinet noted that the Council had submitted two bids in this regard. The first bid was for £100,000 of funding over two years to invest in the successful ECIF scheme and the second bid was for £250,000 to support the enabling works for the redevelopment of Weybridge Hall to facilitate a new independent cinema operator.
The Portfolio Holder was pleased to advise that the Council had been awarded £50,000 from the Town Centre Revitalisation Fund to support ECIF for 2016/17 with a further £50,000 provisionally approved for 2017/18, subject to a successful year one evaluation.
As the grant criteria set out a requirement for 50% match funding from the local authority bidding, it was proposed that £100,000 be transferred from the strategic reserve (LABGI) to top up the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund.