PM appoints towns tsar to oversee regeneration plan

Adam Hawksbee, deputy director at Onward, gets interim chair position
Bexhill-on-Sea is one of the towns getting funding. Photo: Dominic Dibbs/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

26 Jan 2024

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has appointed an interim chair to oversee the new Towns Unit, which is responsible for overseeing the government's £1.1bn plan to regenerate towns.

Adam Hawksbee, who is deputy director of the think tank Onward, will help deliver the government’s Long-Term Plan for Towns, which will fund projects in 55 towns around the country.

Each of the towns will receive a 10-year endowment-style fund with £20m of funding and support to deliver long-term projects focused on the issues that matter most to local people, including regenerating high streets, protecting local heritage and cracking down on anti-social behaviour. 

The unit will support local leaders to develop proposals, encouraging further investment from businesses and making sure that Towns Boards become long-term institutions that serve their communities.  

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities minister Jacob Young said:  "Towns have been taken for granted for too long and local leaders need long-term funding that goes directly to community priorities, instead of being caught up in public sector red tape. I am excited to be working with Adam to deliver our Long Term Plan for Towns to put power in the hands of communities so that they can decide on local priorities and what’s best their future."

Hawksbee will take on the role part-time, alongside his position at Onward. In the role, he will visit towns up and down the country and report directly back to Sunak  and levelling up secretary Michael Gove on how these places can better level up. 

"It’s an honour to be heading up this vital work, which will empower communities to transform their towns," Hawksbee said. "The Long-Term Plan for Towns puts local people at the heart of change, letting them choose their own priorities. Whether that’s making high streets safer and cleaner, improving transport links or celebrating local heritage, we will help towns to rebuild a sense of pride."

In his position at Onward, Hawksbee has published research on topics including empowering regional mayors, tackling antisocial behaviour and reforming technical education. He was also previously head of policy for Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands.


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