, , , , ,

City MP: Levelling Up Fund must bring benefits to Portsmouth people’s doorsteps

Portsmouth South’s Stephen Morgan MP HAS met with Portsmouth City Council’s Chief Executive and other council officials to help secure funding for the city post-pandemic and bring much-needed investment to Portsmouth.

Nationally the Government’s new flagship “Levelling Up Fund” has been criticised for prioritising the Chancellor’s own local authority, where houses are currently on sale for £2.5 million, for regeneration funding ahead of areas often neglected by Ministers for financial support, including here in Portsmouth.

The Chancellor’s own local authority of Richmondshire, as well as the constituencies of four other members of the Cabinet, are prioritised to bid for Levelling Up Funding.

Newark and Sherwood, Pembrokeshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Great Yarmouth local authorities, which include the constituencies of the Chancellor, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick, Welsh Secretary Simon Hart, Scottish Secretary Allister Jack and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis respectively, were all included in the first tier of eligibility for priority funding, under plans announced by the Chancellor at the Budget.

Their areas were selected for funding ahead of authorities such as Barnsley, Flintshire, Coventry, Plymouth, Salford and the Wirral, all of which were included in the second tier for priority funding.

To ensure transparency by Ministers, Labour has previously demanded the Government publish the metrics used to determine areas for priority funding. Bids will be determined by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The news follows months of controversy after a town in the Communities Secretary’s own constituency, Newark, was selected for funding as part of the £3.6 billion Towns Fund by the then communities minister Jake Berry, while Jenrick selected Darwen, in Berry’s constituency.

Ministers at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, will determine bids under a number of criteria.

Following the meeting with the city council today, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Labour supports funding for every region but it is crucial that it is done transparently, fairly and with a say for local communities. This Government cannot pit regions and nations against each other for money that should reach communities as a matter of course.

“Piecemeal pots of funding do not make up for a decade of cuts to local communities in Portsmouth: it just highlights this Government’s failure to bring prosperity to our city.

“Cosmetic projects that don’t fix major inequalities between our regions are not good enough: the real yardstick of success will be if this Government puts opportunities on everyone’s doorsteps and leaves every part of our country feeling like a good place to grow up and grow old in”.

The council will be working up ideas for the area based on priorities set by Government including transport, regeneration and town centre and cultural investment. Up to £20m is available to bid for.

On specific ideas for regeneration the MP added:

“We must ensure future funding from Government finally ends the two decades of decline to our city centre. This is a huge issue locally yet sadly successive council leaders in Portsmouth have promised the earth, but failed to deliver. Investment at the scale our city’s heart needs is long overdue.

“Today I made clear to officials again that we must ensure funding helps create and protect jobs, tackles the climate crisis and makes a difference to the lives of Portsmouth people.

“I will be working closely with others in the development of a bid from our city, and will take a watching interest in proposals on potential regeneration sites”.