New post-Brexit funds of £1.6bn have been earmarked by the government to support “struggling” town centres across the country - including £110m for the East Midlands.
PM Theresa May announced the 'Stronger Towns Fund', which will replace EU regional development funds post-Brexit,
The funds will be targeted at places that have not shared in the proceeds of growth in the same way as more “prosperous” parts of the country, and will be spread over seven years.
The East Midlands will benefit from £110m of new investment
It will be used to create new jobs, help train local people and boost growth – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.
Announcing the Stronger Towns Fund today (March 4), Prime Minister Theresa May MP said: “For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread. Our economy has worked well for some places but we want it to work for all communities.
“Communities across the country voted for Brexit as an expression of their desire to see change – that must be a change for the better, with more opportunity and greater control.
“These towns have a glorious heritage, huge potential and, with the right help, a bright future ahead of them.”
Lee Rowley, Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire said: “It’s good news that the Government are looking at focusing resources on communities like North East Derbyshire.
“It’s early days at the moment and we need to see what the conditions and processes will be for securing funding first.
“I will be speaking with residents over the coming weeks to see what their priorities are for funding and will help make the bid for it when the time is right.
“How I will vote in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement will depend on the contents of the deal itself and the impact it will have on North East Derbyshire.
“As the Secretary of State has already made clear, the stronger towns funding shall be made available irrespective of how the MP votes.”
However, Toby Perkins, Labour MP for Chesterfield said the funding was 'dwarfed' by the amount that has been lost in local government funding.
He said: "It is obviously welcome that there will be a small amount of additional cash available for towns, although it’s not yet clear what will go where. But the new money is dwarfed by the amount that has been lost in Local Government funding in our area since this Government came to power, so if they are expecting gratitude they will be disappointed.
"For every pound spent the Government spends on public transport in Chesterfield they spend £10 in London, and so if they have finally noticed that towns in the North and Midlands have been underfunded, it will take much more than this derisory amount to put it right."
Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: “We have listened to people across the East Midlands who feel left behind by momentous changes to their local communities and I’m determined to provide the support they need to create a prosperous future beyond Brexit.
“This major new fund builds on over £9 billion in City and Growth Deals we have delivered since 2010 to help hardworking people reach their full potential and to build an economy that works for everyone.
“I look forward to working closely with local leaders as they develop their ideas and to hearing what more they propose to bring benefits to their local communities.”
East Midland’s Chamber of Commerce cautiously welcomed the announcement, saying it would be a 'drop in the ocean' when spread out over seven years.
Scott Knowles, chief executive at the chamber, said: “Long-term funding for the regions is extremely important to encourage investment.
“While welcoming that much of the £1.6bn identified this morning could come to the Midlands, it is a relative drop in the ocean when spread over seven years and we will be watching keenly to see exactly where the money goes both in terms of geography and sector.
“We look forward to working with the D2N2 and Leicestershire local enterprise partnerships to ensure that whatever money comes to the East Midlands is used to maximum impact.
“Last July, the Government announced a shared prosperity fund (SPF) to replace European structural and investment funds (ESIF) to tackle inequalities between communities by raising productivity, especially in those parts of our country where economies were identified as being furthest behind.
“Building on today’s announcement, more detail is now needed on how SPF monies will be made available and the extent of the fund. If Government gets it right, SPF and this latest tranche of investment could be a significant contributor to the rebalancing of the UK economy.”