After the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) rejected our Round 2 grant application, the Head of their West Midlands Office, Vanessa Harbar, and our Grants Officer, Jenny Whateley, came to meet our Team at Wappenshall to explain why and they provided us with advice about re-submitting the bid. They consider that this project is extremely important, particularly from the heritage perspective.
Taking this advice on board, the Trustees then started to plan the way forward. They have decided to submit a new application and a Round 1 re-bid is now well underway to meet the submission deadline of the 6th November. If we are successful with our Round 1 and Round 2 bids and raise the necessary match funding, it is possible that work could be completed as early as 2020.
The HLF indicated that we needed to strengthen our Business Plan by improving the long-term sustainability of the project and this is undergoing extensive re-working at the moment.
As well as some general points, they also included the fact that, despite owning the wharf, Telford & Wrekin Council (TWC) were not seen to be supporting the project. Bernie Jones, John Freeman and John Heather have since held several meetings with TWC’s Senior Managers, including their MD, Richard Partington and their Director responsible for Wappenshall, Katherine Kynaston, in an effort to rectify the situation. This has met with some success, as we now have four consultant days, paid for by TWC, to assist in improving the Business Plan; the break clause in our lease has been extended until November 2019 and we are working with their “Telford@50” Celebrations Team to obtain a grant.
We invited all TWC Councillors to a presentation and tour of the wharf on 19th October so that they could see for themselves what a fantastic project it is and to realise the many benefits it will bring. This will be followed up by an offer to take them to another successful canal restoration to see the proof that canal restoration is an excellent investment.
We have also enlisted the Canal & River Trust’s Fundraising Team, who have been successful with a number of HLF bids, to help us with improvements to our bid and this is already bearing fruit.
One of our biggest challenges remains the match funding of the project. Since our initial bid, prices have risen and the overall project will cost more than £2M. With a maximum Intervention Rate of 67% from HLF, this will still leave us with £700,000 to find.
So, to everyone that has pledged to support the project, thank you, but could you find a few more friends and relatives that would do likewise? With Brexit looming and EU funding disappearing, we really need every pound that we can find.