Gedling council leaders have hit out at the government after it overlooked a £50m bid to regenerate parts of borough while other Notts constituencies continue to cash in.
Local leaders were hopeful their most recent Levelling Up fund proposal – which would have seen a multi-million-pound investment in Arnold and Carlton – would find favour with ministers.
The schemes included a new, multi-purpose leisure centre and theatre to replace the current Arnold Leisure Centre and Bonington Theatre, which have been in place since the 1980s. But excitement turned to dismay after the government announced these were not among the 55 projects set to share in the third round of Levelling Up funding – a £1.1bn package intended to narrow regional inequalities and bring prosperity to ‘left behind’ areas.
During the latest round a further £19 million was handed to neighbouring Newark and Sherwood District Council, on top of the £65 million already received from Levelling Up cash.
It has come as a bitter blow to Gedling Borough Council which is currently the 5th worst-affected in the country in terms of the reduction in funding for day-to-day services.
Gedling Borough Council said the feedback from the Government after the failed second round bid was that they required more up-to-date data. They said a comprehensive strategic review of its leisure sites, playing pitches, and community centres, as well as purchasing empty business units had taken place – but the government has allocated funding in round three with ‘no consideration of the council’s further work’.
Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor John Clarke MBE said: “We are incredibly disappointed and dismayed that the government has not awarded us a single penny for round 3 of the Levelling Up programme and has instead allocated money without new applications.
“We took the feedback from round 2 on board and have invested in a comprehensive strategic review, purchased empty units on the high street, and announced a new masterplan, all aimed at improving our chances in the next round of bids, yet they have been completely ignored.
“We are sick and tired of this government moving the goalposts and leaving councils like us with absolutely nothing, time and time again. We have done everything they have asked and yet we have not received a single penny of Levelling Up funding.”
Deputy Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor Michael Payne added: “The Government has now had seven different major ‘Levelling Up’ funds, many of which there has been no chance to properly bid for. Gedling’s communities have not received a single penny from the billions of pounds handed out. There is no excuse from the government for giving Gedling zero whilst giving our neighbours in Ashfield District, Bassetlaw District, Broxtowe Borough, Mansfield District, Newark & Sherwood District and Nottingham City tens of millions of pounds each.”
But Gedling MP Tom Randall remained critical of the bids.
He told Gedling Eye: “The Government has today announced a list of projects funded from Round 3 of the Levelling-up Fund and I am naturally disappointed that Gedling Borough has not been allocated any of the funding.
“The Government’s website states that successful projects funded from Round 3 were based on unfunded Round 2 bids. It is important to note that Gedling Borough Council’s Levelling-up Fund second-round bid was better than its first-round bid. But the Labour Councillors who submitted the second-round bid used out-of-date data and didn’t include a full costing plan which meant it was not even shortlisted. This explains why Gedling hasn’t been awarded funding in Round 3.
He added: “I hope that the Council will take stock from these funding rounds, learn from the experience and use that to submit better bids in the future. In the meantime, I will continue calling for more funding into my hometown of Gedling.”