MORE than £19.5 million is set to be provided to deliver a 10-year vision for Newton-le-Willows.

St Helens Council’s cabinet accepted the Government award of a “long-term plan for towns” status for Newton-le-Willows at its meeting on Wednesday.

It also approved the creation of a Newton-le-Willows Town Board to oversee the development of a 10-year vision for Newton-le-Willows including a 3-year investment plan.

Cabinet members also appointed Chris Hickey as chair of the Newton-le-Willows Town Board for up to 12 months pending a recruitment process and delegated the appointment of the other board members to the chair in consultation with the MP for St Helens North.

Mr Hickey is the managing director and co-founder of consultancy business Mercury Hampton.

St Helens Star: Councillor Kate Groucutt with Mercury Hampton founders Jonathan Sallis (centre) and Chris Hickey (right)Councillor Kate Groucutt with Mercury Hampton founders Jonathan Sallis (centre) and Chris Hickey (right) (Image: St Helens Council)

A total of £250,000 grant funding provided by the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities was also accepted by the cabinet to support the creation of a Town Board and development of a long-term plan for Newton-le-Willows, and the cabinet authorised the council to become the “accountable body” for the Newton-le-Willows Town Board as part of the long-term plan for towns programme.

A report to cabinet said, in September 2024, Government announced the “long-term plan for towns” programme, a core part of the Government’s levelling-up programme, which identified 55 towns across the country that will benefit from up to £20 million “endowment style” funding for investment in local priorities over a 10-year period.

Furthermore, it said, as part of the Spring Statement, the Chancellor confirmed an additional £400 million to extend the programme to a further 20 towns across the United Kingdom, and Newton-le-Willows was identified as a beneficiary.

The report to cabinet also stated that the award of long-term plan for towns status recognises the “real opportunity for growth” that exists in the area and offers funding to ensure that the maximum benefit for local people is derived from these opportunities – which “aligns” to the borough’s adopted inclusive growth strategy and the community engagement ethos.

Council leader Cllr Anthony Burns said it is a “very exciting” report and it shows the “level of our ambition for our towns and for this borough”.

He added: “We’re just coming out of the effects of the Covid pandemic, cost of living crisis – local authorities up and down the country, massive under-funding and backs against the wall, yet we’re still ambitious to deliver change, to deliver regeneration, deliver growth that our residents deserve and we want to see the change in both of our town centres and everything else, so it’s fantastic to do this.”

According to the report to cabinet, the council will receive £19.510 million in funding over 10-years from the Department for Levelling-Up, Housing and Communities for Newton-le-Willows under the long-term plan for towns programme.

It added: “The profile of this funding is 77% capital expenditure (£14.936m) and 23% Revenue expenditure (£4.574m) provided broadly evenly over a 9-year period.

“The local authority is the body ultimately accountable for the funding. The council has received £0.050m capacity funding to support community consultation and the creation of a Town Board by 1 June 2024.

“A further £0.200m will be provided once the Town Board is established, by 1 November 2024, to support the development of the long-term plan and to assist with further community engagement.

“Failure to create a Town Board by June 1 may result in the loss of £19.5m for Newton-le-Willows which would cause severe reputational harm for the authority.

“To mitigate this risk this report seeks endorsement to the appointment of Chris Hickey as Town Board chair.

“The Town Board chair will be supported by the council in their role to appoint the Town Board in accordance with the criteria in the guidance.”