The Leader mentioned that Cabinet colleagues would recall that the UK Government launched a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund last year. Round 1 bidding took place last year and Newport put forward a proposal which focussed on public realm investment opportunities around the Newport Station area. Unfortunately, the Council was not successful with that bid but UK Government had now opened bidding for round 2. This remained a competitive bidding process and up to £20m of capital funding was available for regeneration and cultural projects. The deadline for the submission was 6 July 2022.
Newport was identified as a Priority 1 area and whilst this provided an advantage in terms of hierarchy of need, it remained a competitive process and funding would be awarded on the basis of the quality of the bid and not priority status.
The Leader was very pleased to present this report requesting Cabinet’s approval to submit a round 2 bid which focussed on the creation of a City of Newport National Technology Institute. This new Technology Institute would be based in the City centre and would complement and build upon the delivery of the Newport Knowledge quarter. This facility would be delivered in collaboration with Cardiff Capital Region, Further and Higher Education, business and industry experts, and employers. The focus would be on delivering targeted and focused courses and qualifications where employer demand was greatest. It was expected to:
§ significantly increase the number of learners with higher technical qualifications
§ provide the skills that employers need, both now and in the future, which were crucial to local, regional and national productivity growth
§ attract a diverse range of learners to address the lack of diversity in some parts of the technical workforce, to maximise their social as well as economic impact, and
§ support adult learners, whether in employment or not, who want flexible access to higher-level education
This would be a different offer to existing Further Education and Higher Education provision and local partners were supportive of this bid. It was important to acknowledge that this bid was developed as a result of ongoing feedback from employers and representatives through our regional and local partnerships. Our employers and businesses were telling us that they desperately needed a pipeline of suitably qualified and trained people in the local area to meet their current needs and enable their businesses to grow. Newport had already seen how alternative offers such as the National Software Academy and the Cyber Security Academy could succeed, and this concept expanded on those offers.
The Leader reiterated that this was a competitive process, with no guarantee of success. There may or may not be a third round of funding and the Council needed to pursue all grant funding opportunities available in order deliver on ambitious regeneration plans for the City Centre.
Comments of Cabinet Members:
· Councillor Lacey, with an IT background herself, the Cabinet Member fully supported the report and felt it was an exciting move for the future generations in Newport.
· Councillor Davies also echoed the comments of Councillor Lacey and supported the report. The potential opportunities for children and students within Newport was phenomenal and would provide the qualifications to take children further.
· Councillor Hughes the potential for children to stay within their communities was also an asset there was exciting times ahead and therefore supported the report.
· Councillor Marshall mentioned as an LEA Governor he had seen children coding in school, which was fascinating and this would also benefit the not only the city as a whole but wider ranging for neighbouring cities.
· Councillor Harvey, moving forward, this was clean future for the next generation of children in Newport.
· Cabinet approved the submission of a bid to the second round of the Levelling Up Fund relating to the provision of a National Technology Institute in Newport City Centre.
· Cabinet also to approved a change in the capital programme, as outlined in the financial summary, to fund the potential ‘match-funding’ for this project.