Councillor Hebb introduced the
report and stated that the Council currently retained approximately
38% of business rates collected due to central government’s
scheme of reallocation. He explained that the Council would be able
to keep 100% of business rates collected from within the Freeport
area which he felt would have a positive impact on the Council and
local residents. He stated that the business rates policy was
outlined at Appendix 1 of the report, and point 3.2 of the report
highlighted that discretionary relief would be available to
businesses for five years from the point at which each beneficiary
first received relief. He stated that although the report was
technical, he felt that the Freeport would provide new
opportunities and connectivity for local residents and
Councillor Coxshall felt that the Freeport scheme was moving quickly, as it was hoped that Thames Freeport would the first of eight Freeports across the country up and running. He stated that the Freeport would bring approximately £400m of investment into the borough and officers and Members could soon begin conversations about how to spend this investment in the future. He added that the Freeport would also bring approximately 24,000 new jobs into the area, which could not be jobs that had been relocated from other areas. Councillor Coxshall stated that Thames Freeport would work in synergy with the other Freeports, such as Freeport East in Harwich. He stated that conversations needed to continue regarding the governance structure surrounding the Freeport to ensure that it worked effectively and efficiently.
The Leader thanked officers and Members for their hard work on the report, and to ensure that the Thames Freeport would be the first of its kind up and running. He stated that there needed to be good governance surrounding the Freeport, as well as detailed understanding of government targets and how these would meet strategic objectives. The Chief Executive added that the Full Business Case submitted to the government was being used by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as a best practice example and was being shared with the governments of the devolved nations.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Approved the Thames Freeport Business Rates Policy at Appendix 1.
2. Delegated authority to the Section 151 Officer to make necessary amendments to the policy as required, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Strategic Planning and External Relationships.
3. Approved the Chief Executive’s appointment as the Council’s representative on the Thames Freeport Governance Board, who will be responsible for briefing and updating the Leader of the Council, the Cabinet Member for Finance, and the Cabinet Member for Regeneration. Strategic Planning and External Relationships on key and significant activity.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in
Cabinet agreed that the following recommendations would be adjourned to a later Cabinet meeting:
4. Endorsed that relevant Officers participate in and represent the Council on the various Thames Freeport Sub-committees as necessary and delegated authority to the Chief Executive to appoint officers to appropriate sub-committees e.g. Skills, Levelling Up and Regeneration.
5. Delegated authority to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Corporate Director of Resources and Place Delivery and the Monitoring Officer, to enter into any Memoranda of Understanding with government and Freeport bodies in order to deliver the activities of Thames Freeport, in consultation with the Leader of the Council, Cabinet Member for Finance and Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Strategic Planning and External Relationships.