Public Sector

Published: June 23, 2021 | Updated: June 24, 2021

Man on a mission: “I want businesses to leap – and not limp – back” says BCP deputy leader

Cllr Philip Broadhead, BCP Council’s Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning: “I believe we are in the most exciting period for BCP in a generation.” Picture: Dorset Biz News.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Philip Broadhead is a man on a mission.

As BCP Council’s Deputy Leader, and Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Economy and Strategic Planning, he’s leading the drive to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

The initiatives include a £3m Bounce Back Challenge Fund.

More than 270 applications were received with funding for innovative long-term economic development and future growth projects granted to more than 100 businesses.

Applications were strictly scored on four criteria:

  • Helping the economy bounce back
  • Pride in place
  • Innovation
  • Deliverability

Two tiers of financial award were available:

  • Up to £15,000 for smaller projects or individual business ideas
  • Up to £70,000 for larger projects, including partnership or cross-sector working

Cllr Broadhead told Dorset Biz News: “I want businesses to leap – and not limp – back from the pandemic.

“They face one of their biggest battles ever.

“We have a responsibility to do what we can to help them but we believe they know best how to run their businesses.

“Effectively we’re acting as pump primer.

“The sheer number of innovative project ideas received have amazed us.

“We believe we are the only local authority in the country to have developed this sort of discretionary scheme.

“It will ensure the success and vitality of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole for the future.”

The successful applicants include a week-long business festival – The BCP Business Festival – in November.

Evolve, the community for entrepreneurs and business leaders, is partnering with sister company, Inspire, for the event.

And family run online clothing company – Highstreet Outlet – says its grant will help deliver growth plans including a new website, bigger premises and more employment opportunities.

Company Directors Julie Burden and Katrina Day, pictured, said: “We truly love what we do.

“Being able to create opportunities for employment here in Dorset is what drives us on.”

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), business support organisations and groups representing the retail, business, hospitality, welfare and leisure sectors have already been awarded £700,000 in project funding.

BCP Council is also due to issue around £1m this month in grant support through its Exceptional Circumstance Fund.

The funding is specifically for businesses that were severely impacted by national restrictions and not been considered eligible for any previous schemes.

In total, BCP Council will have distributed more than £150m in grants since the pandemic began.

First elected as a councillor in 2015, Cllr Broadhead, 37, took up the role of Deputy Leader in May 2019.

Describing himself as an “unbridled optimist” he believes the pandemic has given businesses the opportunity to hit the reset button.

It’s also created a more positive climate for ‘big, bold plans’ to be actioned.

A new £50m Futures Fund for infrastructure investment was agreed in February.

It aims to deliver 15,000 new homes and 13,000 new jobs as well as ‘transformative schemes‘ that will add value to civic spaces and improve infrastructure.

Alongside it was the adoption of a new vision – the council’s Big Plan – to create a ‘world class’ city region by attracting £3bn investment.

Among the five core themes is the rejuvenation of Poole.

BCP Council is also establishing an urban regeneration company.

The as yet unnamed company will accelerate the development of at least 12 major publicly owned sites with a gross development value of around £2bn and the scope to deliver around 3,500 new homes.

It will be wholly owned by the council with, initially, an interim Managing Director and largely staffed by consultants and secondments before permanent appointments to key roles.

Cllr Broadhead said: “We have interest in the MD role from someone with international credentials and who has been central to some of the government’s plans for place making and stewardship.

“A big hitter.

“I believe we are in the most exciting period for BCP in a generation.

“With £2bn worth of regeneration opportunities there is so much we can achieve.”

Cllr Broadhead pointed to the recent article in The New York Times about the Kingland retail initiative in Poole – and also the multi-million pound restoration of what once the home of Bobby’s department store to its former glory in Bournemouth, pictured – as examples of the evolving retail landscape.

He added: “I’m incredibly optimistic about the future.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

“Now is the opportunity to match our economic success with the area’s natural beauty.”

  • Aerial pictures courtesy of BCP Council.