Telford & Wrekin Council leader frustrated at government’s Levelling Up decision
Councillor Shaun Davies, the leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, has expressed his frustration that despite being awarded £20m from the government’s Levelling Up fund last week, two other council bids to the fund were unsuccessful.
In Wellington the bid focused on transforming the historic market town with proposals designed to develop the Orbit cinema and café to help kick start the night time economy and cultural offer, as well as work to improve the local roads and public areas.
The second bid proposed improving access around the borough with upgrades and new cycle routes for Silkin Way, as well as the introduction of electric buses and eco-friendly bus shelters.
Councillor Davies (Labour), leader of Telford & Wrekin Council said:
“We were of course delighted to have received backing from the Levelling Up fund to progress our plans for the theatre in Oakengates and to support the further development of Station Quarter through the provision of further education to compliment the new Skills & Enterprise Hub. Our successful bid will now facilitate millions of pounds of further investment from the private sector. However, whilst celebrating this achievement, at the same time we were equally disappointed that our bids for Wellington and our sustainable transport project, like so many bids before, fell on deaf ears.
“As the government knows the council has an excellent track record of delivery and our three bids made compelling business cases that would have made a real difference to many more communities in the borough.
“Common sense suggests the government’s process of asking us to bid on behalf different projects and then being prescriptive about how we should spend any funding made available is flawed. A better option would surely be to award us the money and then allow us to prioritise how it is spent at a local level. That would be meaningful fiscal devolution.”
Councillor Davies continued:
“As a council on the side of our residents we were keen that as many people as possible would benefit from the Levelling Up fund. We felt there was a real opportunity to transform Wellington’s economy by investing in key areas that are so important to the town’s future. We also felt that a bid to address inequalities by focusing on improving cycle routes and introducing environmentally friendly buses as well as bus shelters would help local people connect to job opportunities and instil a sense of pride in the environment.
“We will continue to make a strong case to government both now and in the future for both projects. We are absolutely driven to bring a brighter future for all of our borough residents and businesses.”
Councillor Lee Carter (Labour), cabinet member for neighbourhood services, regeneration, and high streets, said:
“It is very disappointing the government has not supported our proposals for Wellington. The plans would have enhanced the town and supported community initiatives including the Orbit, increasing footfall to our High Street at what is a very challenging time for business.
“We will continue to invest through our own Pride in Our High Streets Programme and the Towns Funding to support Wellington bringing empty properties back into use, supporting existing businesses diversify and attracting more independent retailers.”