Councils should 'step up' to develop 'high quality' levelling up money bids, Robert Jenrick says

Councils should “step up” and work with MPs to develop “high quality bids” for levelling up cash, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Robert Jenrick pictured outside BBC Broadcasting House, July 4 2021 (PA/Dominic Lipinski)

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick made the comments after being asked by Conservative Rother Valley MP Alex Stafford what the Government can do to make sure that Rotherham Council has “plans for and improves all our highstreets.”

In the same session he also answered a question from the Commons’ newest MP Kim Leadbeater on concerns about a new Amazon warehouse in her constituency.

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Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Stafford said: “It’s great to be able to announce that after a long campaign including my parliamentary petition and an adjournment debate in this House, that a bid for the levelling up fund has been submitted by Rotherham Council to improve Dinnington High Street. However I am greatly disappointed that Rotherham Council has not submitted a bid for the other other high streets across Rother Valley.”

He added: “What can this Government do to make sure that Rotherham Council has plans for and improves all our high streets across Rother Valley?”

Mr Jenrick said he was “delighted that the council put in a bid for Dinnington” and that he hopes the constituency will benefit from the levelling up fund and went on: “It does require councils like Rotherham to step up to develop with their local member of Parliament high quality bids and I hope they’ll do so in the years ahead for the other towns in his constituency.”

Ms Leadbeater also spoke for the first time in the Commons during the session to raise concerns about the proposed Amazon warehouse in Scholes.

Addressing Mr Jenrick she said: “The Government is proposing to shift power away from residents and towards developers, so can the minister assure me that the rights of local people to be fully informed and to have their objections taken seriously will always be respected.”

The Minister said that “any reforms that we make to the planning system will continue to have her constituents at their heart” and they will be able to “object to planning applications if they wish to do so.”

Responding to Mr Stafford’s comments, leader of Rotherham Council Chris Read said that they have submitted three high quality bids totalling £60 million to the government, which will benefit all parts of the borough.”

Cllr Read went on: “Projects in Wath, Maltby and Rotherham town centre itself all stand to be funded and we are now waiting by the phone for the government to let us know when the money will be arriving. Of course no central funding pot can ever fund every scheme that everyone would want to see delivered, but the council has already committed £4m of local funding in our Towns and Villages Fund to fund visible improvements in our localities across the borough.”