The proposed Ashfield District Council budget and medium-term financial strategy were supported by Cabinet for recommendation to Council on 3rd March.

Ashfield District Council continues to operate in an extremely challenging and uncertain financial environment. This is following a prolonged period of significant budget reductions since 2010 and on-going and increasing inflationary spending pressures.

Despite this, having recently undergone an independent financial health check with the Local Government Association, the Council’s finances were stated as being “…well managed” with a savings delivery that has a high success rate.

The Medium-Term Financial Strategy sets out the Council’s proposed key spending up to 2025 and includes regenerative schemes including Towns Fund, Future High Streets Fund and the Leisure Transformation Programme.

As part of the £62.6 million from the Towns Fund a number of ambitious schemes will be delivered.

These include:

The Kings Mill leisure development – a new flagship leisure building and outdoor adventure area. The building will accommodate opportunities for a night-time economy, events and meeting space alongside water sports and recreational activities.

Portland Square, Sutton – the refurbishment of Portland Square to create high quality public realm, bringing vitality and vibrancy to the town centre.

Science Discovery Centre and Planetarium – development of a unique landmark visitor attraction through the creation of a planetarium and education centre, which will utilise the half-submerged, brick built Victorian underground reservoir.

West Kirkby Gateway & public transport hub – the project will regenerate the area around Kirkby Railway Station improving the gateway to the town centre. The project will deliver station improvements and increase car parking by 65%.

The Future High Streets Fund will see £6.27 million spent on projects including:

Fox Street, Sutton – the redevelopment of Fox Street will create a pedestrianised area between Asda and the town centre. Creating a flexible public outdoor space which will provide a space for markets, events alongside additional parking.

Sutton Theatre – The current theatre at Sutton Community Academy will be fully refurbished and reconfigured (including new build extension) to create a venue for a theatre, cinema and live music.

Maker Space & Business Hub – The Maker Space is a community workshop facility with equipment for members to use, learn new skills, invent, and build, providing tools and equipment for woodwork, metalwork, textiles and digital. The business hub will provide small units for new and existing small and medium enterprises.

Cllr Matthew Relf, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning said: “These are just some of the key projects we are delivering as part of the Towns and Future High Streets funding. We received the news we were successful in our funding bid last June, and we already have a number of projects well underway with many more to start this year.

“Over the next few years the funding will allow us to make real, positive impacts on Kirkby and Sutton town centres, and we are working with the Discover Ashfield Board and other partners to identify and develop plans for Hucknall and the Rural areas. The future really is bright for Ashfield.”

The Council’s ambitious Leisure Transformation plans will also continue this year, with the much awaited opening of the new Kirkby Leisure Centre in the summer. Upcoming projects include:

Hucknall Leisure Centre – plans are underway to build a £2.7m teaching pool to sit aside Hucknall Leisure Centres current swimming pool. Swimmers are now able to take advantage of the brand new wet-side changing village which features different-sized areas to accommodate multiple users, such as single and family-sized cubicles.

Kirkby Leisure Centre – work on the new Kirkby Leisure Centre is progressing rapidly with plans to open this summer. The new £15.5m leisure centre will feature a gym, sports hall, indoor cycling studio, climbing wall, inclusive spaces as well as Kirkby’s first ever public swimming pool.

Cllr Rachel Madden Cabinet Member for Leisure, Health and Wellbeing said “This is exciting news, the long-awaited second swimming pool is part of the Council’s huge £20million investment and transformation of leisure facilities across Ashfield. The addition of an extra pool will mean the centre is more inclusive and provides a facility that all the family can enjoy.

“Along with the state-of-the-art new leisure centre in Kirkby and enhancement works at Lammas Leisure Centre, the Council is delivering on the promise to improve leisure facilities across the District.”

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