Yorkshire to get half the funding of Tory-held South East
Six projects in Yorkshire totalling over £120 million have been green-lit by Westminster under the latest round of the Levelling Up Fund, while the South East of the country was awarded over £210 million.
Richmondshire, covering the Prime Minister’s constituency of Richmond in North Yorkshire, was given almost £20 million in funding to transform Catterick Garrison town centre.
Questions were raised by the then-South Yorkshire Mayor, Dan Jarvis, in 2021, after Richmondshire was deemed more in-need of support than Barnsley, which has also received £10 million in today’s announcement for a new outdoor activity park.
The Yorkshire Post can also reveal that two thirds of the money given to areas in England under the second round of the Levelling Up Fund have gone to Tory seats.
Of the £1.6 billion given to English local authorities, around £1.1 billion has been given to areas with a Conservative MP, or majority of Tory MPs, analysis of the Government’s data shows.
Only around £475 million was given to Labour areas of the country.
The South East of England, which boasts 73 Tory MPs, has now been given over £360 million over both rounds of the Levelling Up Fund, the third most of any region behind the East Midlands and the North West.
Government officials last night stressed that around 45 per cent of investment across both rounds were allocated to areas held by opposition parties.
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.”
The six projects in Yorkshire include rejuvenation of Cleethorpes seafront, transport improvements for the town of Barton, £41 million of bus improvements across West Yorkshire and a regeneration package for Batley.
Kim Leadbeater, the MP for Batley and Spen, said she was “over the moon” that the £12 million funding had been granted as the area had been “starved of investment for many years”.
Mr Sunak said the announcement will level up communities across Yorkshire, and “build a future of optimism and pride in people’s lives and the places they call home.”
However, the Government has been told that the North’s share of the £2.1 billion investment of over 100 projects from the fund was “a long way off” what it was promised.
Henri Murison, Chief Executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The North is getting roughly a third of the total amount for England, marginally below our first phase proportion.
“This is a long way off the radical economic transformation we were promised and will not make a material difference to closing the north-south divide in productivity.
“The bidding process has been a time and money-wasting exercise for already overstretched councils.
Bradford, for instance, has lost out on over £100 million, including delivering Twickenham for the North.”
Zoë Billingham, Director of IPPR North, said: “Levelling up rightly speaks to the reality of years of neglect of the North and regions like ours, but systemic changes in the North’s fortunes will not be driven by the scale and nature of funding offered today.
“We need a blueprint to level up, not a drip feed”.
Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary, said: “It takes an extraordinary arrogance to expect us to be grateful for a partial refund on the money [the Conservatives] have stripped out of our communities, which has decimated vital local services like childcare, buses and social care.
“It is time to end this Hunger Games-style contest where communities are pitted against one another and Whitehall ministers pick winners and losers.”