There are few parts of the country which require ‘Levelling Up’ more than our community. We have some of the most severe social issues in the whole country here in Blackpool and when the Government speak about ‘Levelling Up’ it is with communities such as our in mind.
We’re spending more than we ever have as a country on our NHS, on schools, transport and crime and we will benefit from this extra investment. However, we also need capital regeneration to take place in Blackpool.
I’ve managed to secure the biggest Town Deal in the whole country for Blackpool with £39.5 million being given by the government for regenerating Blackpool. However we need more. The government’s Levelling Up Fund provides a unique opportunity to do this.
Over the past few months I’ve been working with the Council to put forward a bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund for £20 million more in investment.
As far as I’m concerned, the obvious place in need of capital spending on regeneration is South Shore, and specifically Bond Street/Waterloo Road. I live not far from this area and regularly use the shops and facilities there. The decline in the area over many decades has been noticeable and it’s in urgent need of investment.
As such, I asked the Council to prepare a bid for investment in the area through the Levelling Up Fund. Due to the short timetable for submitting a bid, the Council didn’t think that it was possible to prepare a full bid for improving the condition of the shops, buildings and environment of the area in time for the deadline in June. This is incredibly disappointing and means that the area won’t be included in the bid for funding this time.
However, to ensure that we can put forward the area in any future bids for capital investment, the council are bidding for Government money so they can draw up comprehensive proposals for regenerating the area and consult with residents on this. This will ensure that a ready made scheme can be worked up and discussed with local residents and traders, and that money could be brought in to deliver this scheme in the future.
Regenerating South Shore is an absolute priority and I will do everything I can to bring investment into this area.
Due to the short timetable involved with preparing the bid to this Fund, the proposals which the Council have put forward in the current bidding round include redeveloping the former Post Office building in the Town Centre; schemes to tackle congestion at key junctions in the town centre which will cut journey times; and investing in the Winter Gardens helping to create more jobs and inward investment. Whilst these schemes are all beneficial and will help to create jobs and investment, I know that many of you will be disappointed that the bid focuses on the Town Centre yet again. I share these concerns for the reasons outlined above and it is hoped that the proposals being worked up for South Shore will mean that we can focus on bids for that area when future opportunities for funding become available.