Agenda item

Urgent Items - Levelling-Up Fund Projects


The Chair confirmed that there was one urgent item for the Committee to consider which was a report on Levelling-Up Fund Projects.   This report had been emailed to Councillors late in the afternoon and uploaded to the Committee’s web pages as a supplement, prior to the meeting.


The Chair confirmed that she would adjourn the meeting for a period of ten minutes to provide Councillors with the opportunity to read the report.


The meeting then resumed with Councillor Gunner being present and chairing the meeting.


The Chair introduced this item outlining that with the award of the Levelling-Up Grant there was a Government requirement that the schemes be completed by March 2024. To maintain this programme, it was vital for the Council to progress these projects as quickly as possible and to put into place the relevant resources. This was why this report was being presented as urgent so that recommendations could be forwarded to Full Council on 12 January 2022 for approval.


            The Chair then invited the Principal Landscape & Project Officer to present the report.  She introduced the report explaining it had been compiled following the very welcoming news that the Council had been successful in its bid for the Levelling-Up Fund totalling a sum of £19,424,597 to fund improvements to the Alexandra Theatre, in Bognor Regis and the public realm along Littlehampton seafront. It was explained that this was the very starting point for both projects and that the first step that the Council needed to take was to ensure that the resources and the project teams were in place to deliver the projects. 


The report sought approval to formally accept the grant offer; enter into  a funding agreement; and draw down the funding award. The report also sought approval  for the heads of terms for the procurement of consultants to progress the projects forward. 


The Principal Landscape & Project Officer then worked through other aspects of the report explaining the background surrounding the bid, its submission and grant award; and the scope of the projects. It was important to emphasise that looking at the scope of the overall project, it was clear that it contained service areas that would normally be reported into several different Service Committees. Paragraph 3.1.3 of the Council’s Constitution at Part 3 – Responsibilities for Functions read that “Where a function did not clearly fall within the remit of one particular Service Committee, the Policy & Finance Committee would direct which Committee would deal with the function or deal with the matter itself”. Due to the different projects and the importance of maintaining the tight programme, it would be impossible to manage dissecting this project and working to different Committee deadlines in place. It was therefore being recommended to Full Council that it would be this Committee that would be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Levelling-Up Fund project.


The expertise of external resources was needed to progress the design and deliver the projects. The tendering process planned for the appointment of consultants would be on the basis of the RIBA Works Stages 0-7 which was the definitive model for the design and construction process of a project.  Due to the scale of the professional fees, tenders for consultants would be invited either through a framework or the Find a Tender Service.  Submissions would be evaluated on both price and quality.


Due to the tight delivery programme, which was a Government requirement, it was outlined that in order to maintain this programme it was vital to progress the projects as quickly as possible and to be able to put into place the relevant resources.  A further report on this was on the agenda for this meeting and it was explained that reports providing further detail for each project would be presented to future meetings of the Committee.


Finally, there was the need to comply with a range of terms and conditions and so the Council needed to enter into an agreement with the funding body to be able to access the funding with payments being made six months in advance commencing in February 2022.   The Heads of Terms for both projects had been set out in the report for the procurement of the consultants, listing the scope, duration of contract and the form of contract for each of the projects.


It was proposed that the Council accepted the grant offer of £19,424,597 and approval be given to enter into the agreement, subject to scrutiny of the Memorandum of Understanding’s Terms and Conditions by Legal Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer.  The virements that the Council would need to account for during the delivery of the projects were highlighted.


            The Chair invited questions.  The Committee welcomed the report confirming that it was delighted that the Council had been awarded this sum with the Government recognising the importance of both projects by awarding the full project sum for their delivery. It was accepted that this would be one of the biggest projects that the Council would be responsible for managing for many years and since the development of the Wave Leisure Centre in terms of capital expenditure. The two projects, spreading across both Towns would have significant regenerative effects for both Towns. Questions were asked about the scope of both projects and whether the lists set out under the project scope of the report was exhaustive, and whether other elements could be factored in. It was explained that this could be a possibility as and when Officers approached working on the designing stage with consultants. The Principal Landscape & Project Officer also stated that the scope set out in the report was broad and summarised what had been included in the bid. As project teams would work through the respective projects there would be engagement with stakeholders to work out the various details required to deliver those projects and invariably other things could be put forward and as long as they met the scope then they would be looked at.



Following further discussion, the Chair also confirmed that with match-funding he was constantly liaising with other bodies to see if additional funding for further works in Littlehampton and Bognor Regis could be confirmed, there was nothing to announce to date.


Councillor Oppler outlined that he had not received a response to two questions he had asked about the Regis Centre roof and the need for a community hall. The Director of Services provided assurance that further updates would be provided to future meetings of this Committee on the detail of both projects. 


Following further discussion, Councillor Cooper then proposed the recommendations were seconded by Councillor Pendleton.


The Committee


            RESOLVED – That


(1)          The Heads of Terms of the consultant procurement process be approved as set out in the report for the Alexandra Theatre and Littlehampton Seafront  and riverside project, subject to Full Council approval of Recommendation (3);


(2)          The budget virement shown at Paragraph 2.2 of the report in the Proposals Section totalling £19,424,597 be approved to allow the Council to account for the grant award and associated spending, subject to Full Council approval of Recommendation (3).


The Committee




(3)          The Levelling Up Fund grant award of £19,42,597 be accepted for improvements to the Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis and the public realm at Littlehampton seafront and riverside;


(4)          Approved authority to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding/funding agreement with Central Government and approve the drawdown and expenditure of external funding and that the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding/funding agreement are to be reviewed and agreed by Legal Services in consultation with the Monitoring Officer;







(5)          As per Part 4 – Officers Scheme of Delegation (4.3 to 4.7 refers) and under Part 7 of the Council’s Constitution, delegate authority to the Director of Place and Director of Services to plan, drawdown as well as make budgetary decisions on the expenditure of external spending of Levelling Up Funds in accordance with the terms and conditions and in consultation with the Chair of the Policy and Finance Committee and Section 151 Officer; and


(6)          Give authority for the Policy and Finance Committee to manage and lead on the Levelling-Up Fund as part of its named kay plan objectives and strategies.


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