G8 jobs boost as 100-plus buildings in Fermanagh to be transformed

Published: 13 Dec 2012 13:000 comments

Fermanagh is to be presented in the best light next June for the G8 summit with Fermanagh District Council hoping to improve the appearance of 100-plus buildings and other sites.

Could the former site of the Ritz Cinema be ideal for the new funding?<<

The Council has written to the owners of 150 sites to ask permission to undertake improvements.

The clock is ticking on the plans. The Council is making an application for Dereliction Funding, which has to be submitted by tomorrow (Friday).

And contrary to its usual way of working, the Council is inviting tenders before the funding is secured. "We are making the application for dereliction funding. The application has to be in by Friday but we won't know the outcome until the end of January. The money has to be spent by March 31. We are in the process of putting in an application at the minute. We can't wait until we have got confirmation of funding. We will carry out procurement subject to whatever funding we get. Hopefully in the position to award some tenders. Tenders have to be returned by January 4," said Mr. Brendan Hegarty, Clerk and Chief Executive of Fermanagh District Council..

The work -- painting and decorating, signage, ground surfacing, ground alterations, landscaping and fencing -- is to be tendered out. "This is providing a great opportunity for local people to access some work," said Mr. Hegarty.

"The type of works involved will be a whole range of works on 150-odd sites we have identified around the county, subject to getting funding. The DoE Minister is looking to secure funding in the next monitoring round. If it is secured it is going to be made available to Councils. In light of the G8, we will obviously be making a very strong case to get access to any money the Minister does secure it," he said.

"We are planning to make the sites more aesthetically acceptable," said Mr. Gerry Knox, Director of Technical Services.

Improvement works will take place across the county in Enniskillen, Erne East, Erne West and Erne North. The "lion's share" will be in Enniskillen.

"We will not be able to carry out work on a property unless we have permission to do it. Every one has been written to and given to Wednesday (yesterday) to respond to give us permission," said Mr. Knox.

The timescale is incredibly tight. "In total we have had three weeks to pull this application together. It involved photographing properties, writing up works to be done and costing them and writing up a business case around them. There is an opportunity for local people particularly in and around the construction side of business in this current economic climate. The opportunity will be conditional that they can deliver within the timescales and there will be penalties if they fail to do it in the seven week window to carry the work out. We would need to be awarding tenders towards the end of January. Whoever tenders needs to be in the position to set aside existing commitments or make sure they are in the position to deliver within the seven to eight week window," added Mr. Hegarty.

Last week. DSD Minister Nelson McCausland announced £250,000 funding for a Revitalisation Project in Enniskillen. Fermanagh District Council is now seeking a further £150,000 for property owners in the town to use to improve their buildings.

Of the £250,000 already committed by DSD to Enniskillen, £40,000 will go towards improving the look of shutters. £28,000 for a marquee, a pop-up stalls and a PA system, £22,000 for shop front dressing such as hanging baskets and £125,000 on media and branding to market the town.

On Monday night, officials from the Council met with town businesses to explain their plans to apply for further funding.

"We were meeting to try to encourage businesses to take that up. If they do not, we can't spend it. We were also promoting the urban renewal grant to businesses which is funding the costs of doing up a property. They apply for that themselves," said Mr. Hegarty.

These plans are part of wider issues the Council must prepare for in light of the G8 coming to the county. Service delivery is one issue -- the G8 is to take place during a green bin week.

"We have a string of things we are looking at the impact of the G8. There are contingency measures for service delivery by the Council. A lot of the services the Council deliver will be impacted. There is the tidy-up for the G8 and the post-G8," said Mr. Knox

Mr Hegarty commented: "I think it is inevitable that there will be activity from those opposed to G8. There are aspects coming up with the G8 that are unknown. We know there will be familiarisation visits involving delegations plus the media and we have to plan for that. The council will obviously be doing some work to try to make the most of those opportunities.

"We still don't know if there will be any side events run as part of the G8."

"Disruption is inevitable, just how much we don't know. We will try to liaise with the organisers in terms of community consultation ensuring the entire community is made aware and informed of what the implications might be. We would start that as early as possible," he added.

The Council would also like to see activities in the area that would "harness the footfall" that the G8 will create.

"With a number of people coming to the area prior to the event, we will want to see activities that are ongoing that will interest them," said Mr. Hegarty.

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