MP opposes council's plans to change Derbyshire town's £15m revamp scheme and share funding elsewhere

Bolsover District Council has controversially confirmed it is changing plans to transform Bolsover town centre with £15m of Government Levelling Up funding by possibly redistributing a share of the money elsewhere in the region, after claiming some of its original plans are no longer viable within the given deadline.
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The Labour-led council had welcomed £15m of Government Levelling Up funding to regenerate the town with a significant ‘cultural hub’, a shop front and public realm improvement scheme and improved WiFi 5G network connectivity.

As Conservative Bolsover MP Mark Fletcher launched a petition urging the council to stick to its original plans, the authority confirmed over £6m of the scheme’s projects that are deliverable within a March 2026 deadline will stay in place. However, other projects that can’t be completed within the time frame have been deemed undeliverable so alternative proposals for the town and other areas. are being considered.

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Council Leader Steve Fritchley said: “I have made it quite clear the funding will be spent, where possible, in Bolsover town centre. However, rather than return unspent funding to the Government, it should be utilised for the benefit of residents across the district.

MP Mark FletcherMP Mark Fletcher
MP Mark Fletcher

“Recent figures released indicate that only ten per cent of the money allocated from the Government’s Levelling Up agenda since 2020 has been spent. as local authorities are struggling to meet the tight deadlines. Something I am not going to let happen in Bolsover district.”

However, Mr Fletcher, who has launched a petition on Facebook calling for the council to stick to the original funding agreement and spend the £15m of funding on Bolsover town centre, has accused the council of ‘betraying’ and ‘hijacking’ the original bid for the funding which he says he had helped to secure.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the funding for Bolsover town in his Autumn statement specifically to support town centre regeneration, public realm improvements, and cultural and heritage projects within the town based on the original bid.

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Mr Fletcher had welcomed the original plans for public realm improvements, the re-purposing of empty buildings like the former Co-op store, and greater accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists with more community spaces and new recreation or leisure facilities – but said he was shocked by the council’s latest announcement.

Labour Controlled Bolsover District Council Leader, Cllr Steve FritchleyLabour Controlled Bolsover District Council Leader, Cllr Steve Fritchley
Labour Controlled Bolsover District Council Leader, Cllr Steve Fritchley

The council said over £6m of viable town centre projects which can be completed within the deadline will still include public realm and shop front improvements , with a new community business centre and creative retail outlet.

But projects which the council argues cannot not be delivered within the deadline have had to be reconsidered, including a ‘cultural hub’ which the authority claims would be a four-year development and at the moment no possible ‘end-user’ with management responsibilities for this scheme has been identified.

It had also been hoped that the ‘cultural hub’ would have involved the purchase of vacant retail units to provide better opportunities for new businesses or the expansion of existing ones.

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The council stated that some buildings earmarked within the original plans have now either been sold or been occupied, but the council insists where possible alternative proposals for the town have been put forward.

Bolsover District Council's offices In ClowneBolsover District Council's offices In Clowne
Bolsover District Council's offices In Clowne

In addition, the council stated it is currently working with the Arts Council on proposals for alternative schemes totalling £5m for the town centre, and the council has undertaken a review of remaining deliverable projects across the district and it is working with the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities within funding criteria.

Submitted new proposals include a wider public realm and shop front improvements scheme across the district, alongside specific projects in Pinxton, Blackwell and Shirebrook.

The council argued the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities’ funding award was made with ‘place’ in mind rather than for a specific project and it can be spent on a single project or multiple projects in any locality that falls within the council’s jurisdiction.

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It stressed any schemes must be deliverable on time, provide value for money and have stakeholder support and that business plans must include a specified ‘end user,’ responsible for the running of premises and all future revenue costs.

However, Mr Fletcher stated in his Facebook post: “Hopefully, you recall that the Chancellor, in the Autumn Statement, announced £15m to transform this town, to completely re-do the town centre, but unfortunately our Labour-run district council have decided to spend that money elsewhere.

“Instead of putting £15m into the heart of this town centre they are going to spread it far and wide across dozens of projects across eight different areas.”

Mr Fletcher added that he cannot support the changed plans because he feels they will not have any lasting impact and he has urged Bolsover town residents to contact their district councillor and tell them to use the funding in Bolsover as was ‘originally promised’.

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Cllr Fritchely said: “We are a district council, representing over 80,000 people and have a responsibility to each and every one of them.

“We cannot focus on one area alone as we do not believe this is fair and just. That is why we have spread the money around the district so it benefits a wide range of communities and people.”

But Mr Fletcher posted that he would love to have the same money for everywhere he represents because there is a lot he would like to improve across the district but if funding is not concentrated properly then the impact is minimal and he would rather transform all these communities one at a time than not really improve them at all.