A bid for “levelling up” funding for the Madeira Terraces restoration was one of four bids to be rejected in the Greater Brighton area, it emerged today (Tuesday 7 February).
Brighton and Hove City Council applied for £9.5 million but the project was not included when the second round of grants was announced.
Bids by Worthing Borough Council, Mid Sussex District Council and Arun District Council were also unsuccessful, Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty said today.
Councillor Mac Cafferty, the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, called for greater devolution at a meeting of the Greater Brighton Economic Board at Hove Town Hall.
He told the board – made up of local authority, business and education leaders – that he agreed in principle with the government’s “ambitions” to level up poorer parts of the country.
But Councillor Mac Cafferty, who chairs the board, said: “The key to achieving this is through greater fiscal devolution that provides certainty and allows us to plan over a longer period.
“This could support regeneration in our areas and allow us to take, importantly, an evidence-based approach to investment and regeneration that will result in the best return for the region’s citizens, businesses and the wider economy.”
He said that Brighton and Hove City Council’s chief executive Geoff Raw made these points to the House of Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee during an evidence-gathering session last year.
Councillor Mac Cafferty added: “Further co-ordinated representation to Parliament and government on these matters should continue to be made so that we, as a region, have a voice on the agenda.
“I would welcome a more grown-up relationship with government, which would see greater devolution at a local and city-region level, so that we can take the decisive actions that we need to.”
Four bids supported by the Greater Brighton Economic Board were submitted to the government in the hope that grants would help to revive neglected areas
- Brighton and Hove applied for £9.5 million towards restoring the Madeira Terraces, described as half cultural and half town-centre improvement in the bid.
- Worthing Borough Council applied for almost £20 million to transform Worthing Museum and Art Gallery into a “nationally significant cultural hub” and to recreate the Worthing Lido.
- Mid Sussex District Council applied for £18 million to regenerate Burgess Hill town centre with a mix of homes, commercial space and a digital hub.
- Arun District Council applied for £20 million to create a cycleway alongside the River Arun between Littlehampton and Arundel and a commuter route between Ford and Arundel stations.
Councillor Mac Cafferty said: “It is hugely disappointing that no local authority in the city region was successful in round two of the Levelling Up Fund.
“Four excellent projects were put forward from across Greater Brighton that would have generated huge benefits for those communities.
“And I share in the collective disappointment that none of these bids have been taken forward by the government at this time.
“What that also points to is the decision-making process for allocating funding is deeply flawed. Our officers put in hard work, so it is also a waste of our resources and time. In the longer term, there is the uncertainty this causes as well.
“The levelling up announcement comes at a time when councils are facing extremely difficult decisions following years of council funding cuts.”
He added that these cuts were “combined with unprecedented demand for our services, the highest inflation in a generation, the impact of a crippling pandemic and the ‘cost of living crisis’”.