New bid for levelling up funding to boost Weston economy
- Credit: Paul Blakemore
Town leaders are bidding for the second round of levelling up funding which could result in £10-20million worth of investment for Weston.
North Somerset missed out on the first round of funding which was set up by the Government in 2019 to help tackle regional inequalities.
The district has been placed in the second priority tier for levelling up cash, despite Weston town centre falling in the bottom 10 per cent of most deprived areas in the country.
North Somerset Council’s deputy leader, Mike Bell, says the authority has been working with Weston MP John Penrose, and North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox, to push for fairer funding for the area.
Cllr Bell said: “North Somerset has had no funding so far. I think there are legitimate questions to be asked about how the Government decides on what areas to invest in. For example, Plymouth has had two lots of funding and North Somerset has had nothing. It’s really disappointing.
“North Somerset is perceived overall as a prosperous area, but it doesn’t recognise that we have a big gap between people at the top and bottom.
“If the Government was looking just at Weston, we’d have a strong case, but because they look at North Somerset, we often miss out.
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“In the next round, we are going to be putting in a bid and we working closely with John Penrose to put together the strongest possible case to the Government.”
The Government has allocated £4.8billion to the Levelling Up Fund, to invest in transport, skills and businesses across the country.
Each authority has been placed in one of three categories, depending on their level of need. Those in tier one are deemed as most in need of investment through this fund.
Bids for the next round of funding need to be in by June 18 and will be announced this autumn. Any funding given to local authorities must be spent by March 2024, meaning the council has to bid for funding for projects which could be delivered in this timescale.
Cllr Bell added: “We are talking about £10-20million - which is a big investment for the town. We can’t say which projects yet, but we are looking at various options which are deliverable within a couple of years and will tick Government boxes.
“It’s very firmly focused in Weston town centre, the high street area and wider placemaking strategy and it’s about trying to attract investment and improve the economy.
"I absolutely believe it’s what residents and businesses want us to focus on. Fingers crossed the Government will respond positively.”