No ‘Levelling Up’ cash for town centre dream - The Evesham Observer

No ‘Levelling Up’ cash for town centre dream

Evesham Editorial 27th Jan, 2023 Updated: 27th Jan, 2023   0

THE GOVERNMENT’s decision to snub a £19million bid to kick-start the transformation of Evesham’s town centre has been labelled a ‘disgrace’ by furious Liberal Democrats.

Coun Margaret Rowley accused the Conservative Party of ‘ignoring the pleas of the local community’ after Wychavon was overlooked for a share of the £2.1billion dished out to projects across the UK last week.

However, local Conservatives said they remain undeterred in the search for funding to breathe new life into the heart of Evesham.

Wychavon District Council made a £19million bid to the Levelling Up Fund which would have been part of a £100million revamp of the Riverside Shopping Centre and the town’s main shopping area.

The proposal includes a theatre and cinema complex, a hotel, restaurants, cafes, bars, and independent retail outlets, as well as the potential for new high-quality homes.

But the project missed out – despite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s own constituency of Richmond in Yorkshire receiving £19million of levelling up funding.

Coun Rowley, Liberal Democrat group leader on Wychavon District Council said: “This Conservative Government has chosen to ignore the pleas of our local community, showing yet again they are taking families here for granted.

“Had our bid been successful, the lives of people in Evesham and the surrounding villages would have been significantly improved.

“Instead, we have been left out and forced to fend for ourselves while the Prime Minister lines the pocket of his own area. It’s a disgrace.

“The people of Wychavon, but Evesham in particular, have been let down.

In response, council leader Coun Bradley Thomas said he was disappointed but said the application had ‘encompassed everything levelling up is – creating opportunities for lasting transformational change’.

“We are undeterred though. Residents and businesses tell us they want to see action to support and revitalise Evesham town centre and we share that desire,” he said.

“That’s why we are committed to making the vision set out in the Evesham Town Centre Investment Prospectus a reality.

“We will review any feedback we receive from the Government about our application and consider our next steps, which will include looking for other sources of funding,” Coun Thomas added.

His views were echoed by Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston who said: “I am naturally disappointed we were unsuccessful in the latest round of Levelling Up funding.

“I will continue to work with all stakeholders on developments which will enhance our community and I will continue to seek opportunities to bid for future government funding.”

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