Minister Luke Hall praises leadership of Bradford council weeks after Keighley MP Robbie Moore criticises authority for being too slow with Towns Fund bid

A Conservative government Minister has praised the "leadership" shown by a Yorkshire council in its bid for millions of pounds of regeneration funding after a local MP accused it of taking too long to submit the plans.

In a letter this month to Bradford council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, Luke Hall Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, said he was "delighted" to have received the Keighley and Shipley Town Investment Plans back in February.

The Labour-run authority is hoping to win funding to regenerate the two towns through the Government's controversial Towns Fund which has already seen nearly £200m handed out to other areas of Yorkshire.

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In a letter this month to Bradford council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, Luke Hall, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, said he was "delighted" to have received the Keighley and Shipley Town Investment Plans back in February. Pic: Tony Johnson

The fund was created in 2019 as part of the Government’s 'levelling up' agenda "to help reshape our towns and cities into places where businesses and communities can thrive".

In his letter Mr Hall said: "It is great to see the distinctive approaches of the different towns, but also the areas of cooperation and complementarity.

“Town Deals are about a new way of direct working between government and places – putting decision-making in the hands of local people. You rightly highlight the importance of the two Town Deal Boards and I am very pleased to hear of the work they have both done to engage with local people and businesses.

“I am grateful for the leadership provided by Bradford council. Our assessment process continues, and we will be in touch with the outcome in due course.”

In March, Keighley MP Robbie Moore said both Keighley and Shipley had missed out on the first round of the Towns Fund because Bradford council, which covers both constituencies, was “not as efficient as other local authorities”.

He said at the time that the council had “operated on a much slower timetable, which resulted in our Keighley Towns Fund bid being submitted to the Government only three weeks ago, the same also applies to Shipley Towns Fund bid”.

In a statement this weekend, he said: “The Towns Fund project has shown us what can be achieved when the public and private sector come together for the greater good of an area.

"My thanks go out to everyone who was involved in this process, especially all on the Towns Fund board including the Chair Ian Hayfield from Hayfield Robinson and Vice Chair Steve Kelly from Keighley College.

"Despite the many challenges and obstacles which we faced, as well as the initial unfortunate delays, the final projects were submitted just in time for the last tranche of applications.

"The projects are now being considered by central government and we should know whether we have been successful in the coming months.”

Local elections take place in Bradford on May 6.