Council leader ‘betrayed and let down’ following Levelling Up announcement

Broxtowe Borough Council offices.
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

A council leader said he felt “betrayed and let down” after news of Eastwood’s unsuccessful Levelling Up bid was revealed.

Broxtowe Borough Council applied for Government Levelling-Up funding including £20m for Eastwood and £16.5m for Kimberley to make what it said were much-needed improvements.

Details of successful bids were revealed late on January 18 – Kimberley made the cut for funding but Eastwood did not.

The Government said successful bids were “spread fairly across the UK” and the third round of the Levelling Up fund will open later this year.

The Kimberley bid includes town centre enhancements, new industrial units and improvements to its cycle network.

The Eastwood bid would have been used to create a new health and wellbeing hub, a swimming pool, a community hub and improvements to the cycle network.

Leader of Broxtowe Borough Council Milan Radulovic MBE told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that he was “bitterly disappointed” that Eastwood was unsuccessful.

Cllr Radulovic, who represents Eastwood Hill Top, said: “I am delighted about Kimberley that we got it over the line. It’s a great opportunity and it will be transformational for the local environment and for local people.

“But I am bitterly disappointed to say the least about Eastwood.

“It was a complete surprise and I was absolutely beside myself when I found out.

“It seems the whole of the Levelling Up agenda is about approving vanity projects associated with a disregard for the real issues around inequality including health in Eastwood. It is a farce and a fiasco.

“We’ve got deprivation in parts of Eastwood that are staggering and the health inequalities need dealing with now, not in the future.

“The Prime Minister’s constituency got £19m – the whole system stinks and smacks of favouritism and duplicity.

“I have expressed my concern and we will be making representations to the secretary of state.

“We will always try again and we will always give it everything we can for Eastwood.”

Kimberley Levelling Up Fund councillors

The successful Kimberley town centre improvements include a new Business and Community Hub including co-working and office space.

Small Business grants would also be made available to businesses in Kimberley.

Shane Easom (Con), who represents Kimberley, said: “It’s brilliant, such fantastic news for Kimberley. I am so pleased.

“I have been with our MP this morning celebrating with a cup of coffee.

“We are very excited about it and how we will involve the community to take them along with it.

“It will help regenerate the town centre and we will get a feel good factor in Kimberley.

“We need to get that community spirit back.”

As part of the plans, the current football pitch at Digby Street will be redeveloped into 20 new industrial units to allow new businesses to move into Kimberley, driving job creation and economic growth.

A new sports facility at Swingate Farm will be developed in its place, with a new football and cricket pitch.

A new active travel route will also link up Kimberley with Eastwood, Giltbrook, Phoenix Park Tram Stop and Bennerley Viaduct.

Cllr Easom said he hopes this will “allow people to work in the community they live in”.

Broxtowe MP Darren Henry, who supported the Kimberley bid, said he was “thrilled”.

He said: “I am looking forward to getting these exciting new projects off the ground and ensure that the people of Kimberley and the surrounding area can take advantage of the fantastic opportunities on offer.”

A government spokesperson said: “The Levelling Up Fund is investing in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, spreading opportunity to historically overlooked areas. “All projects were subject to a rigorous assessment process under robust, fair and transparent rules, with no involvement of local MPs in the selection process.”

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