In Owl’s eyes this is a cynical way of dangling phantom carrots in front of desperate councils.
EDDC will receive £230,991 as part of the Government’s £56 million Welcome Back Fund.
The money can be used to provide or improve outdoor areas for socialising, smarten up the streets and organise events such as festivals and markets to support local businesses.
Or councils can “use”, Owl prefers “gamble”, any amount of the funding they receive to put together a bid for up to £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund, to regenerate and improve town centres in their areas.
Remember in December 2019 (just before the general election) Simon Jupp recorded this promise : Exmouth will receive new funding from the Government’s new Future High Streets Fund. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has confirmed that Exmouth will receive funding to help secure up to £20 million pounds from the Government’s new Future High Streets Fund? – Never happened.
As we approach the County elections “Jumping Jupp Flash” says he has spoken up for Exmouth and now it’s down to the council to make a strong bid. But what realistic chance does it have, ranked in the lowest third for priority? In effect, if no money comes it won’t be Jenrick or Jupp failing to deliver their promises but because either EDDC failed to bid or their bid is a failure. Catch 22.
So, now you see it now you don’t, as much of the “Welcome back fund” of nearly £231K finds its way into the trousers of “Bid Consultants”. – Owl
Dismay as East Devon placed in lowest tier for funds
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
Councillors from East Devon were united in their dismay that the district has been placed in the lowest tier for a Government regeneration fund – with one joking that they should rebrand the district as a ‘red wall district’.
The Government last month created the Levelling Up Fund, which brings together the Department for Transport, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to invest £4.8 billion in high-value local infrastructure.
The Fund will focus investment in projects that require up to £20m of funding, but bids above £20m and below £50m will be accepted for transport projects only.
However, East Devon District Council was only placed in the lowest of the three categories, and the prospectus for the fund outlining that while the preference will be given to bids from higher priority areas, bids from categories 2 and 3 will still be considered for funding on their merits of deliverability, value for money and strategic fit, and could still be successful if they are of exceptionally high quality.
The council’s cabinet, when they met on Wednesday night, unanimously agreed to recommend to the full council that a budget of up to £100,000 is made available to enable a bid to be put together, but they, as well as councillors from the Conservatives, were left disappointed by East Devon’s categorisation.
Further discussions will be held with the district’s three MPs over what bids, if any, East Devon chooses to submit, with suggestions over a bid for the regeneration of Exmouth town centre, the Axminster relief road, the Seaton seafront enhancement scheme, as well as improvements to existing infrastructure among the ideas floated at the cabinet meeting.
Cllr Paul Hayward, portfolio holder for economy and assets, said: “We have to take the opportunity as if we didn’t we would be lambasted., but is £100,000 that we need to spend wisely. We need to ensure the MPs understand the significance of that amount of money from the East Devon budget on what is a bid of a punt and it has to be supported 100 per cent by the MPs and they have to hold the Secretary of State’s feet to the fire and that it has to be considered greatly.
“If we are to spend £100,000 on EDDC money, then it has to be on a very understanding that the bids will be supported actively and positively.
“This could be very positive for the district and I look forward to talking to the MPs, but I am dismayed we are in Tier 3.”
On the suggestion that had been made by Conservative group leader Cllr Andrew Moulding, who added East Devon in Tier 3 was a disappointment, that a bid for the ‘ready-made’ Axminster relief road be considered, Cllr Hayward added that if they went down the route of the relief road, then they could end up with a better road placed in the right place rather than one located due to the cost and income from the house building to fund it.
Cllr Bruce de Saram added: “It is distressing to see us in the third tier but a joint bid could be successful and I hope we will work with the MP to get a successful outcome.”
Cllr Marianne Rixson added: “We should make better use of existing infrastructure rather than building more. Many bus routes have been cut and what we need instead of more loss of services is for buses to be reinstated and rural areas to need frequent affordable bus travel, as this is something we need to do if we are going to reduce carbon emissions.”
Cllr Jack Rowland said he was puzzled by the categorisation that placed East Devon is Tier 3, alongside the likes of Richmond, saying: “To think that equates to us with the same economic deprivation strikes me as slightly flawed.”
The cabinet unanimously agreed to note the prospectus and timescales for submission of bids, endorse the next steps to develop a bid, including meeting with MPs, and to recommend to Council that a budget of up to £100,000 is made available.
Cllr John Loudoun jokingly suggested a fourth recommendation that would have a cast iron recommendation that will get East Devon out of Tier 3, saying: “We recommend to the council that we rebrand the district as ‘East Devon – a red wall district’ – there you go and we’ll get the money.”
Simon Jupp, MP for East Devon, had previously said; “I have spoken up for Exmouth in Parliament and now funding which can be used to develop plans to improve our town is on the way. East Devon District Council needs to submit a strong bid to be considered for up to £20 million for Exmouth’s High Street. I hope the council will work with me to grasp this opportunity for the good of our town.”