Halton Borough Council’s Reconnecting Runcorn project was recognised for its “great collaboration, engaging the youth sector and using culture to drive economic activity” at The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT) annual President’s Awards, which recognise local and combined authority members, working across the country.

The win for the award category Shaping Places for People, sponsored by Impower, celebrates collaboration in the delivery of programmes and services that improve outcomes for people of diverse backgrounds and social groups across the preventative health and social care agendas.

The Reconnecting Runcorn programme sees Regeneration, Highways, Programmes Office and Environment departments collaborating to deliver a high quality community-led project, being delivered by a range of partners, including the local NHS Trust, Riverside College, Halton Housing, Runcorn Locks Restoration Society, Hazlehurst Creative Studios, Wat Phra Singh Buddhist Temple, Power in Partnership (youth support organisation), Mako Create (digital skills CIC) and A Place for Us (local performing arts organisation).

In the 1960s Runcorn was designated as a New Town, with new road networks and shopping centres built to serve incoming residents from Liverpool. Subsequently, the ‘Old Town’ of Runcorn faced a legacy of underinvestment with the IMD 2019 indicating that Halton is 39th most deprived borough nationally (from 317 boroughs); the ward is in the top 10% most deprived. Reconnecting Runcorn project is making progress in addressing local physical, environmental and economic needs and aspirations, focussed on bringing the connectivity from the past throughout the town to meet current needs, using culture to create an economically viable town and raise civic pride.

Cultural activity runs throughout the project from the Brindley Theatre enhancement, a new temple hall and peace garden for the Buddhist Temple and a creative and digital hub – a base for local creative groups to support residents. And young peoples’ voices are prominent through a youth sector partner with Power in Partnership.

Furthermore an annual ‘Runcorn Day’ gives an opportunity for residents to immerse themselves in ongoing plans and feed in suggestions for future delivery. Activities include a tour of the area, site visits, panel discussions and a marketplace of all projects.

A revamped Reconnecting Runcorn website acts as a portal for current information on projects, plans and events. A social media and press campaign, led by a specialist agency, adds a unique approach to showcasing the area.

Damian Cooke, Director of Economy, Enterprise and Property, Halton Borough Council said “We’re delighted that Reconnecting Runcorn has been recognised for its project aims to drive sustainable long term economic and productivity growth and will include enhanced transport links, housing and environmental improvement as well as upgraded visitor attractions. We’re proud of our internal collaboration, community engagement and our partners who are actively invested in the programme and helping to drive it forward; many are also providing match funding.”

According to ADEPT, the judges felt that this year saw the strongest set of submissions that they had seen so far and that every entry resonated with today’s issues, feeling both contemporary and relevant.

Outgoing ADEPT President, Anthony Payne said: “It’s truly inspiring to witness the high standard of entries in all categories in this year’s, awards, which sparked extensive deliberation among the judges. I’d like to congratulate all of the exceptional winners and thank everyone who entered.

“Creating resilient places was the theme of our event and the complexities of this bold and exciting goal are ones we can only tackle with innovation and collaboration.”

View the project entry film here:  https://youtu.be/Hkgv_f9QYzQ

More information can be found here: https://reconnectingruncorn.info/

Photo: Damian Cooke, Director of Economy, Enterprise and Property, Halton Borough Council and Ella Dunne LGA Graduate Trainee, Chief Executive’s Delivery Unit, Halton Borough Council with the ADEPT award.