Row over Levelling Up cash escalates as MPs criticise Gedling Borough Council funding bid

Tom Randall and Gedling Borough Council leaders John Clarke and Michael Payne have locked horns again over government funding.

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A row over ‘levelling up’ funds has escalated after Gedling MP Tom Randall accused Gedling Borough Council leaders John Clarke and Michael Payne of concentrating on ‘churning out taxpayer-funded propaganda’ instead of working on an improved bid to get access to government funding.

During Business Questions in the House of Commons last week, Mr Randall criticised the council’s approach to the Levelling Up bid and also a recent letter they sent out to residents about the council tax increase.

He told the House: “Gedling Borough residents are opening their council tax bills to find a letter, signed by the leader and deputy leader, criticising the government, including that the borough has not received levelling up funding. But at a meeting I had with Department for Levelling-Up officials this week, I learned that Gedling’s levelling up fund bid was described as disparate and insufficiently compelling, feedback that the council would’ve had when they prepared their letter.

Randall added: “Gedling Borough Council’s leaders’ time would be better spent working on better bids, rather than churning out taxpayer-funded propaganda.”

Leader of the House of Commons and fellow Gedling Borough MP, Mark Spencer MP, replied: “I share his pain in that Gedling Borough Council covers part of my constituency as well. He is right to draw the House’s attention to this.

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Gedling Borough Council were turned down for funding during the last round of bids, with £20m being requested to make improvements to areas like Arnold, Netherfield and Carlton.

A second round of bidding opens soon.

Speaking after Business Questions, Tom said: “I facilitated a meeting between Gedling Borough Council and ministers before the council submitted their levelling-up bid. Feedback provided to the Council during that meeting, particularly around public engagement on bids, seems to have been ignored as it again forms part of the reason why their levelling-up bid was not successful.

“I would not have made this feedback public, or raised it in the House of Commons, but I felt compelled to speak out after Gedling Borough Council’s political leadership tried to use the levelling up fund as a stick to beat the Government with in the letter they sent to all Gedling households at taxpayers’ expense.”

Gedling Borough Council’s leader John Clarke MBE said the letter sent to residents ‘simply stated the facts’.

He said: “Our Member of Parliament failed to mention the reason we issued that letter, to explain to our residents why we have had no choice but to increase council tax at a time when bills are going through the roof and people are genuinely concerned about how they are going to afford to make ends meet.

“We simply stated the facts; we are one of the worst affected councils in the entire country in terms of government funding and that we have not received a single penny for ‘Levelling Up’. 

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Councillor Clarke also said the feedback received about the previous bid had been positive.

He said: “The feedback we received from government about our bid was clear: it was strong, well presented, detailed and costed but it was a very oversubscribed category and we were classified as not being suitable for feasibility funding, which would have strengthened our bid.

“Our officers worked tirelessly to put the bid together and will no doubt be disappointed to be criticised so publicly.  

“Mr Randall says he didn’t come into politics to attack councils yet this is not the first occasion where he has publicly criticised Gedling Borough Council officers for trying to do their jobs.

“We think that his time would be better spent working with us to ensure the residents of this borough see much needed funding, instead of sending out press releases when he doesn’t like criticism of his government that is stating the simple facts.”

A new bid is expected to be submitted in the coming months when the second round of the Levelling-Up Fund is launched by the UK Government.

3 COMMENTS

  1. can we see what Gedling Council proposes in applying for the Levelling -Up Fund before it is submitted

  2. I was led to believe that electioneering with public money not is not allowed, whether electioneering material is true or false

  3. The very idea that ‘bids’ are made for funding simply allows the the government to put money where they want it to go ie Tory councils. Corrupt and a con. Why not simply send the money to the poorest councils?
    PS I know why!

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