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Daily Record
Daily Record
Stewart McConnell

Dragons' Den style funding bid blasted as North Ayrshire loses out

Angry Deputy Leader Shaun Macaulay blasted the “Dragons' Den” style distribution of the Levelling Up Fund after North Ayrshire Council had two bids snubbed by the UK Government.

North Ayrshire Council submitted two bids for the second round of the Levelling Up Fund – one for the second phase of the transformation of Lochshore Park, Kilbirnie, and the other a joint bid with South Ayrshire Council to transform vacant land into commercial opportunities.

Councillor Macaulay said: “The fund is like a Dragons' Den style of distribution as we pitch it and then Civil Servants and Tories in London pick what they think will level up the country. You are not telling me Rishi Sunak’s constituency gets 10s of millions yet we are in some of the highest levels of poverty and child property in the UK, you can’t tell me that’s fair.

"We would rather see the money coming direct to North Ayrshire, It's not levelling up, it's levelling down."

Councillor Tony Gurney, Cabinet Member for Economy and Climate Change, said: “We’re obviously disappointed to miss out in the latest round of Levelling Up Funding but remain undeterred in our ambitions.

“While we successfully received funding for the much-needed upgrade of the B714 in the first round of funding, we remained optimistic that our robust bids for the second round would be supported.

“The outcome is obviously disheartening given the strength of the applications and their alignment to the fund, but we remain committed to the projects put forward and will now investigate potential alternative sources of funding. We will also consider how we approach the third round of Levelling Up Funding once details are announced.

“We know the positive benefits the projects can bring to this area and our residents, and that’s why we will continue to pursue them every step of the way. The concept behind the Levelling Up funds is fundamentally unfair.

“It replaces EU funds that were specifically targeted to areas of deprivation with a much smaller fund that is solely in the gift of the Tory Westminster government.

“This leads to the unfair and unsustainable situation where the Tory Prime Minister’s rich constituency benefits from the award of his own government whilst areas like North Ayrshire are deprived of much needed funding.

“This makes clear the anti-democratic nature of the fund, the potential for political patronage playing a larger role than identified need, and the appalling side-lining of elected bodies such as the Scottish Parliament and Local Councils in pursuit of the Tories’ obsession with the continued centralisation of power in London.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Since the launch of the Levelling Up Fund, we have provided more than £3.8 billion of funding to support over 200 projects that will benefit millions of people across the whole United Kingdom.

“Our decision making criteria, published last year, made clear that ministers could take into account other investment in local areas, including grants from the first round of the Fund, to encourage a spread of funding across more areas. Only when all bids had been received, and their quality known, could decisions be taken to achieve this.

“In this round, we received over 500 proposals with a total value of £8 billion and our aim was to spread opportunity from our £2.1 billion of funding as far as possible.

“There will be a further round of the Levelling Up Fund. Before this launches, we will support those bidders who were unsuccessful as we did in the first round, including by providing feedback, to refine their proposals and prepare for the next round.”

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