Last week saw something of a landmark for Hereford and for Herefordshire: the Stronger Towns Fund board submitted its bid for £25 million of regeneration funding for Hereford.
For the first time, we have been able to put before Government, and create for ourselves, a really coherent and strategic long term plan for future investment, and a vision of what the city and the county can become. It is incredibly exciting.
Hereford Times readers will know that if there is one thing that would make our beautiful county even better, it would be to have a stronger economy, building businesses new and old and generating great jobs and higher incomes for local people.
But that's not enough: we need our county's economy to be sustainable and resilient and diverse as well. That is why I have been so passionate in support of fast broadband and the Enterprise Zone and our own pioneering New Model institute in Technology and Engineering and dozens of other local projects.
What we have always needed is a common vision. But it's an incredibly difficult task to capture the essence of the city somehow, and yet retain its energy and life. Like trying to bottle a rainbow.
Enter the Stronger Towns Fund: a government competition launched in 2019 for 101 towns and small cities in England to bid for up to £25 million of investment each.
Each bid had to be developed by an independent private and voluntary sector-led board, working alongside the local council. It had to involve lots of local consultation. And it had to be distinctive, so you knew which the city was without needing to check.
So: built from the grass roots, drawing together private, volunteer and public sector energy, non-partisan, not political, consensual, distinctive and long term. Just the ticket.
This bid is Hereford‘s response. It reflects a huge amount of work by a brilliantly chaired board of volunteers with very different
backgrounds, interests and experience, drawn from across the city.
These have been assisted by expert outside advisers, Rose Regeneration, with able administrative support from Herefordshire Council and spectacular design from Orphans. There has been a phenomenal amount of consultation and engagement with local groups and organisations.
The result brilliantly combines skills, enterprise, heritage, culture, the arts, tourism into a package emphasizing creativity, sustainability, connectivity and fairness. See it for yourself at www.strongerhereford.co.uk. Now we have to make it succeed.