Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Camden rebuilds capital investment programme

While most of the debate around the cuts has been around the withdrawal of revenue (ongoing) support for local services, in Camden we face another major challenge - the withdrawal of capital investment support for the infrastructure.

The capital investment deficit stands at over £1bn for the remainder of the decade, with little or no government money forthcoming.  the lion-share of this is for school and housing repairs, primarily as a result of the cutting of £160m+ of Building Schools for the Future cash and the historic housing repairs deficit.

There are also high bills to meet for community buildings, roads, cycle lanes, libraries, social services and parks.

These are issues we can't ignore - if we don't invest in our infrastructure then these will carry on deteriorating, leaving higher bills for others to pick up.  School buildings in poor condition will look increasingly second rate next to shiny new Academies, and parents will start voting with their feet unless we do something.   

Camden's Community Investment Programme (CIP) was agreed in December 2010 is a radical long-term programme to use the regeneration or sale of the Council‘s public assets and local property holdings (now published online) to improve, shape and transform key places and services within the borough, whilst simultaneously addressing a critical capital funding gap to public services left by the government.

We hope the Programme will make an important contribution to economic growth, tackling inequality, investing in our communities to ensure sustainable neighbourhoods and securing value for money.  See CIP 'Prezi' here.

CIP will be delivered over the next 10-15 years.  However, early progress is important to address current and imminent capital needs and to realise early receipts in order to fund the wider programme and vital investment in Council homes and schools.

The Cabinet has already agreed to prioritise £117million of capital funding for the borough‘s voluntary aided and community schools over a five year period, with the bulk of it between 2012/13 and 2015/16.

Resources have also been allocated to children‘s centres and a forum involving governors, headteachers and diocesan representatives has been set up to discuss allocation of this funding.

The scale of our works are ambitious, and represents one of the biggest self-funded initiatives in the country. They include:

- Over 80 projects - from major regeneration projects to small sites - are planned to start in the next five years
- Major regeneration to Gospel Oak, Maiden Lane (NW1), Bourne (WC1) and Abbey Road (Kilburn) estates.
- £117million will be invested into 57 of the borough's schools and children's centres
- £119million could be invested in Better Homes repairs to 10,000 council homes
- Over 850 new social housing homes built - either for council rent or shared ownership.  The first council homes built since the early 1980s are now being built in Highgate.

Camden is also using its planning process to secure local benefits:  an expanded Kingsgate primary school on Liddell Road in West Hampstead; a new primary school at Netley; a new Argent-sponsored Free School in King's Cross and a new Hawley Primary in Camden Town.

The latest update on progress is here and here - we are now looking at how we develop better buildings for local businesses to support the local economy.

With a fair wind, this will be a Labour council which has rebuilt its own capital investment programme and devised its long term solutions for the people of Camden in the face of the government's ill-judged plan to cut 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects.

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