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Why did Gloucester miss out on Government high street funding?

January 19, 2021 8:30 AM

Councillors Ashley Bowkett and Jeremy Hilton outside Debenhams in Kings SquareThe Liberal Democrats are demanding to know why Gloucester missed out on a share of a £830 million Government fund to help high streets recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city council submitted a 17-page bid for funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government's Future High Streets Fund.

But Gloucester's bid failed to impress and did not receive a penny from the Government fund - even though the city centre is dying, with the closure of Sainsbury's the latest blow.

While Gloucester missed out, other nearby city and town centres were successful.

Swindon will receive £25 million and Kidderminster has won £20.5 million. Taunton has been awarded a provisional £14 million, while Leamington Spa and Yeovil have been promised £10 million each.

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a motion to be debated at the next meeting of Gloucester City Council on January 28 demanding to know why the bid failed.

Lib Dem group leader Jeremy Hilton said: "The news that Gloucester didn't get a penny from the £830 million High Street Fund that was announced at Christmas was incredibly disappointing.

"The city council put in a 17-page application, but failed to impress and councillors need to understand what went wrong so that next time we don't lose out.

"Our city centre is dying, Sainsbury's are clearing out and Debenhams will soon be gone - adding to the long list of empty shops in the Gloucester.

"We could have benefitted from a £25 million grant similar to that given to Swindon."

Councillor Ashley Bowkett, Lib Dem economic growth spokesman, added: "Our motion asks the leader of the council to tell us what went wrong.

"Did we for example get active support for our bid from Gloucester's MP?

"Over 70 city and town centres have benefitted from the £830 million handout but Gloucester has been short changed and we have got nothing.

"This snub will have a negative impact on our historic city centre and Gloucester's economic recovery from the pandemic."

The motion says:

"This council notes that on 26th December the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government awarded £830 million to 72 areas in England to help transform their high streets.

Despite Gloucester City Council putting in a 17 page bid, this council records its disappointment that the city centre didn't get a penny from MHCLG.

Others city and town centres nearby, were successful. Swindon got £25m and Kidderminster £20.5m, with provisional funding awarded of £10m to Leamington Spa, £10m to Yeovil and £14m to Taunton.

This council calls on the leader to provide members with a written report of what went wrong. Highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the submission and what could have been done better."

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton

Seconded by Ashley Bowkett