East Staffordshire Borough Council: Boosting prosperity through skills, education and employment in Burton upon Trent

East Staffordshire Borough Council successfully bid for £23.8 million of funding to regenerate Burton upon Trent. Collaborating with key partners including the universities, colleges and the county council has been key to accessing the towns fund and drive regeneration. In doing so, the council aims to cement itself as a place of learning and opportunity and help close the skills gap to achieve long term economic prosperity locally and regionally.

The challenge

Burton upon Trent is an historic brewing town, at the heart of the National Forest and is situated on a key crossing point of the River Trent. With its favourable position along the A38, Burton has developed as a key logistics centre, which has seen major employers invest elements of their international operations in the town. Whilst the town has its existing strengths in the river, the town’s heritage and in its position as the capital of the National Forest, it still has potential opportunities to enhance Burton’s connectivity and to drive developments in enterprise and skills.

The solution

The council developed its Burton Town Investment Plan against this context with an ambition of bolstering the economic prosperity of the region. The Investment Plan was developed as part of the Towns Fund programme, which identifies three key projects for skills:

  • creating a University Regional Learning Centre co-located at the town’s Brewhouse Arts Centre, enabling opportunities for higher education and adult lifelong learning.
  • relocating and modernising the Burton Library which will see the service moved into the Burton Market Hall, providing state-of-the-art education facilities, and protecting and revitalising a historic building in much need of repair.
  • developing a specialist education offer at the Burton and South Derbyshire College, which will see the creation of a further education STEAM hub (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics), with four distinct facilities for creative digital learning, games development, mechatronics and cyber-security.

This project will also introduce a Health and Social Care realistic working environment with specialist equipment. The delivery of these projects is governed through the Burton Town Deal Board partnership, of which East Staffordshire Borough Council is the accountable body, with membership from the public, private and third sectors, along with service providers such as education engaged as project sponsors.

The impact

It is anticipated that the Burton Towns Fund Programme will provide significant opportunities locally and regionally and also support the town in establishing a stronger identity nationally as it looks to create the conditions for market leading education and innovation. Bringing a Regional Learning Centre to the town, alongside additional specialisms at the college in partnership with Staffordshire University, will create new and exciting opportunities for higher levels of education attainment. Consequently, it will bridge the increasing skills gap in the town, particularly in the context of the borough’s growth industries. Beyond that, through the delivery of these interventions, the town will be able to cement itself as a place of learning and opportunity, inviting more education inflow from the region and beyond, rather than a continuous stream of outflow.

How is the approach being sustained?

The approach is being sustained through a collaborative partnership approach involving key partners and stakeholders in the area. As the Accountable Body for the Towns Fund programme, the borough council co-ordinates, facilitates and drive the regeneration of the town, but without taking an openly collaborative approach it would almost certainly be in vain. Therefore, this collaboration underpins the delivery of the Towns Fund programmes.

Lessons learned

The importance of collaborative partnerships in regeneration cannot be overstated. Accessing the Towns Fund for Burton was the first step in this journey, but it would have been impossible to achieve this vision without working collaboratively with the appropriate partners, in this instance the universities, college and the county council.  Working across organisations, sectors and boundaries has consistently presented opportunities to leverage greater public value to support Burton upon Trent in becoming a strong town for education and opportunity.