York leaders have accused the government of ‘gaslighting the North’ after the city was snubbed again by the levelling up fund.
The city had put in several bids to round 2 of the fund, after getting nothing in round 1.
Today the successful bids were published. York got nothing again, and the only success in North Yorkshire was a project to develop Catterick town centre, in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency.
Several key projects in York are now in question after the levelling up funding failed to materialise.
Critics suggested the £32m Castle Gateway scheme was already in trouble last summer – and that was before the government rejected the £10 million levelling up bid.
City of York Council had also applied for £10 million for Parliament Street, Coney Street and the Riverside Quarter developments.
And they wanted £5 million to improve active travel links to a new Haxby railway station.
Nigel Ayre, executive member for finance and major projects on York council, said today: “It is incredibly disappointing that the government have failed to see the potential of the excellent project bids submitted.
“Despite this, we will continue to explore all alternative funding sources and ways to progress these ambitious and exciting plans which would be transformational for the city.”
He was scathing about the government “failing to deliver on its levelling up promises” by “forcing councils to raise council tax by 5 per cent just to deliver basic services” then leaving them to “fight for scraps of funds”.
The South East of England has been given almost twice as much funding as Yorkshire.
A spokesperson for the government told YorkMix that, although this figure is “factually correct”, “when you look at per capita spend – spending in the North West is double that of the South East”.
“Throughout the levelling up fund process the government have pit regions and communities against each other and kept councils in the dark over the outcome of these bids for months,” Lib Dem Cllr Ayre said.
“That the only area in North Yorkshire to receive any funding is the Prime Minister’s own constituency proves this is all just an exercise in pork-barrel politics.
“Levelling up is at this point nothing else than an election slogan used to gaslight the North and local leaders, completely failing to understand the needs of our communities.
“We will continue to make the case for real investment in our city and the region until Westminster finally listens.”
Andrew Hollyer, a Lib Dem councillor for Haxby and Wigginton, told YorkMix Radio of his disappointment over the failure of the Haxby railway station bid.
He said they would now pursue funding “through any other available funds and any future rounds as well”.
He too was sceptical about the fund. “The only area I think in the whole of North Yorkshire that’s actually received any money is Rishi Sunak’s own constituency.
“So no, I don’t think anybody in York and North Yorkshire is really feeling any benefit from this.”