As a result of failed funding bids approved and submitted by Labour Council bosses, Gedling Borough Council has received nothing from the Government’s Levelling-up Fund. During yesterday’s Gedling Borough Council meeting, a motion calling upon the Government to provide Gedling a fair share of funding when allocating the Levelling Up Fund Round 3 was debated.
During the debate, Conservative Councillors tabled an amendment, to the motion submitted by Labour Councillor, which called upon the Government for more investment into Gedling but also highlighted that the Conservative Government has invested in Gedling and the amendment also pointed out that the reason the Labour-led Council’s Levelling-up Fund bids haven’t been successful.
On the failed Levelling-up Fund bids submitted by Gedling’s Labour Councillors, Cllr Sam Smith, who represents the Trent Valley Ward and is the Chief Whip of the Conservative Group, said: “Gedling’s Levelling-up Fund bids all have one thing in common, they are all failed bids signed off by the Labour leadership.
“In response to an FOI, Gedling Borough Council admitted that they’d lost the feedback from Levelling-up Fund round 1 so why are we all scratching our head as to why [this Council’s] Levelling-up Fund round 2 bid failed? Feedback on [the Council’s] Levelling-up Fund round 2 bid mentioned that out-of-date data was used and, unsurprisingly for this Council, it didn’t include a full costed business plan. Let’s also remember that budget for the plans that were submitted didn’t match with the cost of the project, so you applied for less funding than you needed for the project.
“Last time Gedling Borough Council was issued with Government funding the Labour leadership had to give some of it back because your spending plans were not within the funding criteria and sadly our residents across the whole of the borough missed out on improved high streets. They missed out on new benches being installed, they missed out on trees being planted on high streets across the Borough because instead you wanted to police them on COVID measures.”
Cllr Smith went on to point out that the Government’s approval of Levelling-up Fund bids was not political: “The approval of Levelling-up bids is not political. Mansfield is Labour-led, Ashfield is Independent-led, Broxtowe is Labour-led, Nottingham City is Labour-led. They all received funding. Rushcliffe Borough Council is Conservative-led and it did not. So that is clear evidence that the approval of bids isn’t political.”
Turning to Government funding that Gedling has received, Cllr Sam Smith said: “While Gedling hasn’t received any funding from the Levelling-up Fund, and believe me we [Gedling Borough Conservative Councillors] are as disappointed as you [Gedling Borough Labour Councillors] are, it is important that our amendment mentions that Gedling has received Government investment from the Conservatives.
“The Arnold Market Place was partially funded by the Government. Carlton Square was partially funded by the Government. Swimming pools across the Borough are receiving £127,000 of Government funding. £750,000 of Government money from the Conservatives is being invested into new CCTV and streetlights in Colwick and Netherfield to make people feel safe and a Shop Watch scheme has been launched at Netherfield retail park.
“The big one that your motion missed and which we have had to add into our amendment is the Shared Prosperity Fund. Conservative Government funding of £2,800,000. Where is that going? Into Gedling Borough. New sports facilities on Lambley Lane recreation ground, funded by the Conservative Government. King George V accessible toilet block in Arnold that has been installed is also part of the £2.8m from the Conservative Government. And guess why we got the £2.8m Shared Prosperity Fund? You didn’t have to put a bid in with the Labour leadership deciding what is written in the bid, so the Council got the money, surprise, surprise.”
While tabling the amendment, the Leader of Gedling Borough Council’s Conservative Group, Cllr Mike Adams, pointed out that the Labour Councillors who signed off on the bid removed Netherfield from the plans and only focused on Arnold: “We feel our amendment covers all the detail of importance in regards to the actual motion, while focusing on the issue rather than the politics.
“I am really glad to see Carlton, Carlton Hill, Colwick, Netherfield, Burton Joyce, Stoke Bardolph, Newstead, Woodthorpe, Mapperley, Gedling, Ravenshead, Calverton, Woodborough, Lambley, Papplewick, Linby, Daybrook, Porchester, Redhill, Killisick, Warren Hill and Bestwood village mentioned because none of the Levelling-up Fund bids submitted by the Council’s Labour leadership mentioned any of those. So, I am really glad to see them on the motion in front of us because when any of those areas had a momentary opportunity to be part of the bid they were thrown out by the Labour leadership like yesterday’s laundry.”
“We want all the areas within Gedling Borough to get more funding. We were sad to see that the Levelling-up Fund bids were turned down and were even sadder to see that the opportunity to assess those bids, in an independent way, is being attempted to be overturned because it is very easy to mark your own home work but lets have the opportunity of someone else having a look to find the holes in the applications and work with the people who are responsible for putting these together to ensure these things are fixed. Therefore, when we next go for an opportunity to bid for the next round of the Levelling-up Fund LUF, that is successful.”
Councillor Adams concluded that it is not just Arnold that deserves funding: “We are all for more funding for Gedling Borough Council areas. We are all for improving the town centres, whether that be Netherfield, Carlton, Mapperley Top or even Arnold but what we’d like to see is that when these funding bids come in that those funding bids do actually covering all the areas in GB and we aren’t just funding Arnold, which seems to be a prerequisite of any funding that the Labour leadership of this Council apply for. So, lets make sure we look after all the areas of this Borough which our amendment calls for.”
Speaking after watching the Council’s debate, Gedling’s MP Tom Randall said: “I was elected in 2019 to represent the place I call home on a manifesto that promised to level-up our communities. Great progress has been made: every school across Gedling now has more funding per-pupil and there are more police officers on our streets to help keep us safe. £2,800,000 is being invested into new sports facilities on Lambley Lane recreation ground and new facilities on Arnold’s King George V park and £750,000 is being spent on installing new CCTV and street lighting to improve safety in Colwick and Netherfield. In addition, I have been lobbying for more funding to repair our roads and I am delighted that, as a result, millions of pounds has been invested to fix more potholes in Gedling and across Nottinghamshire.
“But I will always welcome and call for more funding into Gedling. Funding from round one and two of the Government’s Levelling-up fund was reliant on Labour-led Gedling Borough Council submitting a good bid. Sadly, the first-round bid was described by civil servants as "disparate and insufficiently compelling". The second-round bid was better but used out-of-date data and was missing a full costing plan that meant it was not even shortlisted.
“The Labour administration at Gedling Borough Council has the opportunity to take stock from this experience, to learn from it and to use the experience to produce better bids in the future. If instead they are just going to churn out council motions blaming Uncle Tom Cobley and all, it will instead - sadly - be an opportunity missed.
“There is to be a Councillor-led review into the council's bid writing process. This was promising but I understand the Council is now distracted in re-running the election for Chairman. Gedling deserves better."