Every Parliamentary Constituency via the Council can submit a bid for funding to improve their area. Despite running the Unitary Council for over a decade, Labour has left us with very little in the way of projects to pull off the shelf and submit.
The government says we can bid for up to £20m per constituency, yet only one bid was ready to submit, for Bishop Auckland Constituency, to tackle a more than two decade congestion and pollution problem around Toft Hill, fix Whorlton Bridge and improve Shildon Locomotion and links to it.
Yet despite the Toft Hill bypass (and its route) having been on the table for 20 years, and despite having been the Cabinet support councillor for Highways (Neighbourhoods) Labour Councillor Rob Yorke (West Auckland) is now kicking off about the route of the road.
It is the height of hypocrisy six weeks after losing power for this councillor to now say the proposals his colleagues drew up are wrong. Indeed it is Labour councillors who have actually helped cause congestion problems in that part of the County by ripping the heart out of Bishop Auckland and building the out of town shopping centre at Tindale Crescent.
Thankfully there are three rounds of bidding for the Levelling up fund, and whilst I believe the Government needs to do far more than it is to boost the North East, it is a step in the right direction. I’m certain we will have five more robust bids ready in time for the the future rounds of funding.
What we now need the government to do is to provide the funding our schools need to help our children catch up after the pandemic – even their own adviser resigned over the paltry help offered.
The Government should also honour their promise to Councils to “do whatever it takes” to cover the loss of income and increased costs caused by the Covid crisis. So far they have paid over less than half of what they promised.