We believe this is also true when looking after our communities. That is why when we received the UK Shared Prosperity Funding (UKSPF) from Government, we set up the Mansfield Community Grant Fund, which was administered in conjunction with Mansfield CVS.
This fund was designed to get financial support to those voluntary groups already active and helping in their communities – our community champions.
Twenty projects across the district in Warsop, Forest Town, Ladybrook and Mansfield Woodhouse have benefited with awards up to £15,000.
We will be helping them continue their work in food clubs, with bereavement support, helping to combat drug and alcohol issues, offering financial guidance to get through the cost-of-living crisis, providing community memory cafes and events and installing play equipment for the Ladybrook and Manor parks.
We will adopt a similar philosophy to help businesses and skills when the second strand to the UKSPF becomes available, for projects over £15,000, over the next two years.
Tourism has also been a key factor in assisting with the recovery of our region. There has been a 16 percent increase in our local visitor economy, which has really been helping support local businesses.
County-wide income worth £2 billion pounds has also supported over 20,500 jobs.
Our 2023 events programme has seen some fantastic highpoints, with the first Windrush Caribbean carnival to highlight the contributions made by the Windrush generation, the inaugural Mansfield Film Festival along with the increasingly popular learning disability OneFest, Armed Forces Day and Party on the Market – all helping drive up business.
We have been doing everything within our means to help families during the ongoing cost of living crisis, which is why most of these events are free to attend, including our Summer Festival, which saw record crowds flock to Titchfield, one of parks closest to the town centre.
Like many other residents, I was very sad to hear about Wilko’s going into administration. I regularly get emails to say how much shoppers miss Debenhams, BHS, Woolworths and Beales.
However, it is not within our power to turn back the clock. These closures have come about due to online shopping, Covid-19, and years of emphasis on building out-of-town shopping centres.
The council has to plan and cope with all the financial pressures resulting of these closures as well as the many knock-on effects, including residents having fewer reasons for coming to town and, as a consequence, not spending money and supporting local businesses.
This is why our regeneration plans are so important. The investment and funding we have won will help Mansfield recover.
The plans to put people and businesses back in the town centre to increase footfall, support start-up businesses, allocate shop front improvement grants and make the town centre more attractive with urban greening projects like the Memorial Garden will all help Mansfield weather the consequences of these turbulent financial times.
There has been some good news this week: the £8.8m tech and skills centre on the Vision West Nottinghamshire College Chesterfield Road campus received planning permission. This educational centre will strongly focus on innovation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.
There will be facilities to support construction, engineering and digital technologies and advice on how local businesses can adopt these new technologies.
The aim is to give local people the skills for the future labour market needs, plug the skills gap, and create well-paid jobs in Mansfield and the wider district.
This is the most significant expansion in education in this area for decades, resulting from great partnership working.
Works on site are anticipated within weeks, with an opening scheduled in autumn 2024. This is another example of keeping it local to help communities and businesses.