The Leader of Coventry City Council has hit out at the government after the city was once again overlooked for the Government’s flagship Levelling Up programme.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities today announced the second round of awards from its Levelling Up Fund.

The £4.8 billion government scheme is designed to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK. Councils were invited to submit bids to fund town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.

Coventry City Council had submitted three bids totalling almost £58 million – two at looking to help improve two of the city’s most disadvantaged areas, Foleshill and Hillfields, and another to help create a new Cultural Gateway into the city centre – but all three have been turned down.

The news has angered Cllr George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council, especially with the revelation that the majority of the funding has been allocated to London and the south east of England.

Cllr Duggins said: “I have always been sceptical of the concept of Levelling Up as I felt that it was just a meaningless slogan and today’s announcement has confirmed that.

“We were told the concept was about bringing all areas into line so how can it be right that Coventry has been overlooked, like many other Midlands and northern towns and cities? Our region secured just 1.9 per cent of today’s levelling up pot and the majority of the money has gone to London and the south east which we are meant to be levelling up with. How is that fair?

“After the first round of funding, the need of Coventry was recognised as we were moved from a category two area to the highest priority of category one, but still our bids have been rejected.

“Let’s be clear, this is not new money they are awarding anyway. At best this money is a partial refund for the money we have lost and has been stripped out of our communities over the last 13 years.”

Since 2010 Coventry City Council has received a reduction of £110 million a year in Government funding and is among a cross-party group of 20 of the lowest funded councils based on funding per head of the population in the country.

Cllr Duggins added: “The idea of levelling up was to reduce regional inequality but to continue to prioritise London and the south east beggars belief.

“The whole principle of levelling up is flawed, as forcing local areas to compete against each other for funds in this way cannot be the way we level up.

“Despite this setback, the Council and our partners remain committed to doing everything we can to continue to improve all areas of the city for our residents and businesses, but it is such a shame we are not able to do that with the support of our government as well.”

Thursday, 19th January 2023

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