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Money dries up for ‘disappointing’ 49 business hub in Lymington as creator Paul Sherry defends operation



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A PRIVATE business hub which was launched with the help of £150,000 of public funds has been branded “very disappointing” by New Forest District Council’s economy chief who revealed the money has been written off and no more will be provided.

Cllr Michael Harris, a member of NFDC’s ruling cabinet, criticised the venture – which is based at South Efford House, near Lymington, and known as 49.

Created by Paul Sherry in 2019 as a 7,000sq ft innovation centre to attract business, 49 was privately led but received taxpayer cash, with NFDC and Hampshire County Council handing it £75,000 each.

49 in Milford Road, Lymington
49 in Milford Road, Lymington

Cllr Harris criticised it at a recent meeting of NFDC’s corporate affairs and local economy overview and scrutiny panel.

He later revealed to the A&T that NFDC and HCC had written off their original investments, adding: “We will not be making any further investments into the existing management structure.”

It follows district councillors refusing in early 2021 to grant Mr Sherry more seed money over the apparent lack of firms using the facility. They noted he had paid himself £34,000 consultancy fees and spent £50,000 on marketing.

In a statement to the A&T, Mr Sherry defended 49, saying it had attracted 23 firms. However, he said all but seven had moved out when the pandemic and lockdown hit.

He highlighted how 49 had supported the NHS by housing midwives and health visitors from Lymington hospital, and is now accommodating community nursing teams.

“We are immensely proud of the small but important role we have played during Covid-19, and we are equally pleased our NHS colleagues seem delighted with their new home,” Mr Sherry said.

Paul Sherry, who launched 49
Paul Sherry, who launched 49

He said he was “a little disappointed” at the comments by Cllr Harris who he suggested had been too busy to “digest” an impact report on 49 that he had authored.

In the document Mr Sherry claimed it had delivered on all the pledges given to both NFDC and HCC when it was granted funding.

Mr Sherry told the A&T 49 now has bold plans to help pressurise developers into providing more affordable homes for local people.

“We also look forward to working in partnership with colleagues at NFDC, and elsewhere, to tackle this most stubborn of social challenges,” Mr Sherry said.

“49 and our partners have developed a disruptive model of regeneration that is focused on building affordable homes ‘at scale’ using modern methods of construction.

“These mixed-tenure developments will also test new leading-edge technology, as well as innovative models of home ownership and funding now working as part of a UK wide consortium.”



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