Government urged to provide £1.9m to support Richmondshire’s deprived communities

County Hall, Northallerton.

The Government is set to be urged to approve £1.9m in funding to help Richmondshire’s deprived communities bounce back from the pandemic and start the transition from EU funding.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive will next Tuesday consider submitting plans for 28 projects in an £8.4m bid to the Community Renewal Fund national programme focusing on removing barriers that people face in accessing skills and local labour market opportunities.

While a number of North Yorkshire’s neighbouring areas, including County Durham, Darlington, Doncaster and Bradford have been classed as high priority areas by the Government for the funding, only Scarborough and Richmondshire districts in the county have been identified as being of high priority.

In North Yorkshire, £1.9m of the bids are focused on Richmondshire and £3m on Scarborough.

The county council bid also looks set to include £817,000 of proposed schemes based in Craven, £818,000 in Hambleton, £432,000 in Harrogate, £981,000 in Ryedale and £469,000 in Selby.

The Government is expected to announce which of the 28 schemes are successful before August.

While the county council has not revealed the nature of any of the schemes due to business sensitivity, it has stated the key objective of the programme is to enable innovation through pilot programmes and new approaches.

However, papers for Hambleton District Council’s cabinet meeting next week reveal that one of the schemes, which it has developed with the Local Enterprise Partnership aims to help businesses adapt to changes in consumer habits arising from the growth in online trading, particularly in light of the Covid -19 pandemic.

A Hambleton council report states: “The project seeks to help physical retailers to be ‘omni-channel’ retailers and to encourage them to build closer relationships with their customer base. The approach is to encourage customer engagement and to help businesses to develop a strong digital presence through online trading platforms and effective social media engagement.

“The proposal is that the pilot will be for Northallerton High Street but that the learning developed from the pilot will then be transferable and capable of being rolled out across the district and across a range of business sectors.”

County council finance executive member Councillor Gareth Dadd rejected suggestions that the Government’s decision to prioritise just two districts in North Yorkshire was disappointing, particularly given that much of North Yorkshire, with its dependence on the tourism and hospitality sectors had been hard hit by the pandemic.

Welcoming the potential help for less affluent areas, Cllr Dadd said: “Levels of deprivation are highest in Scarborough and parts of Richmondshire.

“Businesses such as bed and breakfasts have been supported by the government through the pandemic better than anybody could have hoped for.

“Many of the proposals would reach out from their base area and anything that has a chance of being approved has been submitted.”

A Government spokesman said it had prioritised places that suffer from weak economic performance and that were less equipped to resist and recover from shocks.