Rutland County Council is in the running to be named one of the UK’s most entrepreneurial local authorities as part of a national award scheme that recognises success in local government.
Rutland is one of seven nominees shortlisted for ‘Entrepreneurial Council of the Year 2016’ through the Local Government Chronicle Awards and has been recognised for its work to develop the former Ashwell Prison into Oakham Enterprise Park.
The council, which bought the prison site in 2014, spent more than two years developing the 25 acre complex into a hub for local businesses. More than 98 per cent of available business units at the park have now been let, providing income for the council and helping to grow the local economy.
About a third of tenants are new business, which the council can support through signposting to grant and loan opportunities and the provision of free training courses.
Since the start of 2015, the site has also become home to a brand new adult learning and skills centre and the Active Rutland Hub, which provides a base for local sport, leisure and community groups. Three of the original prison cell blocks remain and are regularly used as locations for film and television productions.
The council’s director for places Paul Phillipson said: “Oakham Enterprise Park is a key part of the council’s long-term strategy to develop and promote Rutland as a great place to live, work and visit.
“Rather than a derelict prison site we now have a vibrant business park which is helping local entrepreneurs to start new businesses or grow companies that couldn’t otherwise find premises to match their ambitions.
“All of this is great for the county and we’re extremely pleased the project has been recognised by LGC in this way. With parts of the site awaiting further development there is still much more to come from OEP.”
Rutland County Council will present details of the project to judges later this month, before all the award winners are announced on Wednesday, March 16.