John Healey MP has written to the government after it was revealed by a government minister that Wath and Dinnington’s bid for Levelling Up Fund (LUF) money was destined to be rejected.
It was reported in local media in Birmingham that the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Michelle Donelan, stated in a recent trip to the city that:
“It was made a rule that if you’d been successful in the first one, you couldn’t be successful for a second one because we would have to spread that money around the UK.”
John has raised questions with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Michael Gove, to explain if this was in fact government policy and if so, why were Councils involved in the bidding process not informed prior to pulling together round two bids?
In the letter the Wentworth and Dearne MP said: “These comments would suggest that the government had already adopted a rule that areas that had been successful in the first round of the LUF could not receive funding in the second round.
“I understand from speaking with the Leader of Rotherham Council, Cllr Chris Read, that there was no indication that this would be the case when council officers put in many working hours to bring together the borough’s bid for submission. The Local Authority accepted funding from round one of the LUF process in good faith and with no knowledge that this would impact any second round bidding.
“The public and local businesses were involved in consultation on the bids, so this would mean their time was totally wasted by ministers not being honest from the start; they had hopes raised falsely, as there was no chance of success however good the bids were.
“It’s estimated £127,000 was spent on external design and consultancy works and around £100,000 was spent in officer time in the development of this bid – equating to a total of around £227,000 wasted on this bid alone.
“People across Rotherham deserve to know if this was the case and if the whole bidding process for round two was a waste of time and effort.”
The Levelling Up Fund Bid of for almost £20m was submitted by Rotherham Council.
If successful the money would have been used to create a new mixed-use development in Wath town centre, as well as delivering significant improvements to the market and High Street in Dinnington.
You can view John’s letter in full below.