In the runup to my election on 12th December 2019, I campaigned on a number of things I called 'My Plan'. In the early hours of the 13th December 2019, that became 'Our Plan'. Throughout my 16 months as your Member of Parliament for Workington, I have been working hard to deliver on that plan for the Workington Constituency. One of the core tenets of the plan is to support our fantastic town centres, which have undoubtedly faced huge challenges throughout 2020. That is why I welcomed the recent announcement for Maryport's success in the Future High Streets Fund - the allocation of £11.5 million to regenerate Maryport's High Street. But that has been quickly followed by the fantastic news in today's budget that we have managed to secure £23 million from Workington's Town Deal submission!
You can read more about the bid HERE, and you can WATCH MY VIDEO which gives you a flavour of what's to come..
I have worked closely with Allerdale Borough Council and with the Town Deal Board over the last 16 months on this, and I pay tribute to their hard work. In particular, I'd like to pay particular thanks to Councillor Mike Johnson, Deputy Leader of Allerdale Borough Council, to John Coughlan, Managing Director of TSP Engineering and Chair of the Town Deal Board, and to Kevin Kerrigan, Allerdale Borough Council's Programme Director for Workington.
For the Workington constituency, and for the wider Allerdale, this Conservative government - alongside this Conservative council - are truly delivering it's promised 'Levelling Up' agenda .
This is all truly fantastic news for the Workington constituency, and shows what can be achieved by a Conservative MP, working with a Conservative government and a Conservative council. It really is testament to the hard work and dedication of a fantastic team - one with the future of the Workington constituency at it's heart.
I continue to work hard to secure more investment across the patch.
WHAT WILL IT FUND?
1. Port of Workington - Clean Energy and Logistics Hub
Funding will enable development of serviced employment land at the Port of Workington and on the adjacent Oldside to its north. This serviced employment land would be available for development by a variety of potential occupants primarily in the general industrial and storage and distribution use classes. In particular, it is anticipated that businesses in the logistics and clean energy sectors will be attracted to these sites, building on West Cumbria’s established presence in these sectors, and aiming to develop a centre of excellence for these sectors within West Cumbria. This project complements other initiatives underway at and around the Port of Workington, such as recent investment in a new Port Access Bridge, and prospective upgrades to the Cumbrian Coast Railway Line.
I am working with Allerdale Borough Council and Cumbria County Council to support the comprehensive redevelopment of the Port and Oldside, and also with Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, who have submitted an application for the port area to become part of a multi-site, multi-modal freeport - in association with the Port of Barrow and Carlisle’s Lake District Airport – that I championed with them in our initial meetings after my election.
2. Workington Innovation Centre and Entrepreneurship Programme
Workington has ambitions to become a leading location in Cumbria for innovative, technology-rich SMEs. The vision is to establish Workington Innovation Centre (WIC) as a distinctive, successful and widely recognised focal point for the incubation and growth of scalable firms. Workington Innovation Centre will target digital and advanced engineering firms although, as technologies converge across sectors, a flexible approach will be required. It will offer:
- High quality energy efficient design, modern/flexible office space that can be reconfigured to meet the changing needs of tenants
- Reliable and cost-effective broadband, offering download speeds of up to 1Gbps
- Cafeteria/bar and communal informal meeting space to encourage interactions between firms/workers
- Formal conference/meeting room space
- A welcoming reception area with secure storage and shower facilities for cyclists
- Innovation and entrepreneurship support.
Workington Innovation Centre will be a catalyst for the regeneration of the Central Area Car Park site and will be progressed in two phases.
- Phase 1 will provide flexible office space (c15,000 sq ft) targeted towards anchor tenants with a relevant technology focus e.g. local advanced engineering/manufacturing or digital technology firms willing to engage in open innovation.
- Phase 2 will include a flexible, energy efficient 15,000 sq ft office building that comprises: incubation space/provision for early stage SMEs; grow on space; co-working space for knowledge workers who (post Covid-19) do not want to work from home five days a week, but similarly, do not want to commute to major employment hubs elsewhere; and a café/bar/events area to animate the space during the day and evening time, thus helping to attract more visitors and expenditure to the town centre.
3. Public Spaces and Connectivity
To retain its role as West Cumbria’s primary retail and commercial hub, Workington needs to offer a town centre that is attractive, accessible for all and complementary to its heritage. The proposed measures will focus on two key corridors in the town centre:
- East-West: better connecting the west of the town and the railway station to the retail and heritage areas.
- North-South: integrating Central Way – the key north-south corridor through the town centre into the town centre,
- connecting to the Lower Derwent valley, to the north, and residential areas (partly via cycleway) to the south.
The proposed townscape and connectivity investments are:
- At the junction of Oxford Street and Murray Road, the junction will be redesigned to create a new gateway to the retail centre. This will help pedestrians recognise where the main retail offer begins and helps welcome them towards it. A new public space will be created by rationalising the vehicular and bus movement provision to create additional pedestrian space.
- To enhance legibility and encourage pedestrian footfall, Murray Road will be redesigned to create the impression of pedestrian priority. The appearance of the street will encourage higher footfall, enhancing the financial viability of the street and supporting access to the wider existing retail area.
- Investments to the public realm along Central Way; this is divided into three areas:
- Central Way, South: a pedestrian priority treatment which will encourage pedestrian and cycle movements through the area. By using a series of design features, drivers will be encouraged to slow down and give way to pedestrians and cyclists.
- Central Way, Middle: This section will reduce the area’s existing function as an area for informal parking and loading, while prioritising pedestrian movement.
- Central Way, North: The underpass north of there is already subject to significant improvements (via the Towns Fund advanced funding), which will be enhanced by improved pedestrian facilities into the existing car park to its north. This will be achieved by reorganisation of the car parking layout.
- Funding the provision of improved wayfinding to help visitors access the town centre and navigate around, including links between the station and the heart of the town centre.
4. Allerdale Community Sports Village
I have long been a proponent of high-quality, sustainable new sporting facilities - both for the professional clubs and for grassroots community clubs. We will create a multi-purpose sports village that will provide high quality inclusive and accessible sporting facilities for both community and professional clubs that will be sustainable in the long term.
At the heart of the development is the proposed redevelopment of the existing football ground at Borough Park to create a new shared stadium for Workington AFC (Workington Reds) and Workington Town RFLC, replacing the outdated and deteriorating facilities at both Borough Park and the nearby rugby ground at Derwent Park - which do not meet modern standards and expectations and are costly to maintain. The provision of a new modern venue will support the aspirations of the towns two premier sporting clubs and will provide a sound foundation for the clubs to meet their aspirations to progress up the football pyramid and provide a Super League presence in West Cumbria.
The new facility will provide the clubs with an opportunity to explore a wider range of commercial opportunities including matchday hospitality, conferences and outdoor concerts. The new stadium will also be available for community use and sit alongside a new community facility based around a new artificial grass pitch with the potential to introduce additional facilities to support a range of other sports. The new facilities are located close to the modern Workington Leisure Centre where a new outdoor events space and outdoor gym are being built with the support of accelerated funding through the Towns Fund, as well as the well-established cricket and bowling clubs. This combination of new and existing sporting provision will provide a hub for sporting excellence in the Lower Derwent Valley, that will serve both Workington and West Cumbria.
It is also proposed to provide further investment in the improvement of Council owned pitches at Moorclose and provide a satellite facility extending the reach of the project.
5. Digital Accelerator
The Workington Digital Accelerator will be an investment in a high-quality skills cluster within existing facilities to provide Workington with an axis for the delivery of high level, specific digital skills which can be summarised as follows:
- Data analysis, curation and visualisation
- Client relationship management (CRM)
- Digital Design and Marketing
- Machining and manufacturing technology
The project will involve the creation of new and improved learning space within which higher level, specific digital skills will be delivered. The new learning space will feature state of the art equipment that reflects industry needs and supports businesses of the future. It will meet the current and forecast increase in demand from learners for up and reskilling in fields detailed above, directly supporting both local economic and productivity growth.
In addition, the project will look to promote the acquisition of baseline digital skills as a route into employment and digital skills as a driver of enterprise and entrepreneurialism. It is intended that the project will be based in Workington's fantastic learning zone in Lillyhall. This new and improved learning space is intended to ultimately form one of the ‘spokes’ in the proposed ‘hub and spoke’ model being progressed by Cumbria LEP and its partners to develop a Cumbria-wide Institute of Technology.
Last year, accelerated Town Deal funding of £750,000 was awarded to Workington to support a range of improvement projects in the town. The money was part of a Government pledge to aid economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and was for projects that could be completed in the current financial year. In Workington, we used the £750,000 funding to:
- Create a dedicated cycleway through the underpass between Central Way and the Brow Top car park, improve lighting and introduce Workington-themed artwork to the walls of the underpass to make it more attractive for users.
- Make public realm improvements to the Cloffocks area near Workington Leisure Centre by creating an outdoor events and activity area. This will include new pathways for walking and jogging, a new paved area to create a suitable space for a mobile big screen for public viewing of major events and high-quality outdoor gym equipment.
- Support the proposed demolition and redevelopment of the former Opera House site in the town centre.