levelling up

The Surrey levels mean no level funding?


The allocation of levelling up funding from central government was announced last week, with more than 100 projects given a share of £2.1billion. But no funding was given to Surrey’s councils, with one of the county’s proposed projects being improvements to Caterham town centre and flooding measures.

Three bids were put in across the county in total, with the other two being for better cycling and walking routes to the east of Woking and a new health centre in Sheerwater. Overall, government figures show £672m was allocated to develop better transport links, £821m for community regeneration and £594m to restore local heritage sites across the country.

More than £200m was given to councils in south east England, including £45m to Kent County Council for more border control points and traffic improvement measures at Dover and £20m each for improvements to Folkestone and Sheerness town centres.

Over the border in Hampshire, Rushmoor Borough Council was also awarded £20m for a state-of-the-art leisure centre, library and cultural space in Farnborough to help tackle high levels of obesity, inactivity, and poor mental health in the area. But Surrey’s councils were not awarded any cash, with only three bids being put in between the county council and the 11 district and borough councils.

We break these down in detail below, including the cash that was asked for, and those councils which did not bid for funding.

Unsuccessful bids:
Surrey County Council’s £12m bid to improve walking, cycling and bus routes to the east of Woking would have created better connections to the town centre, and were part of wider plans to improve sustainable travel options in the county. The scheme would have seen improved footpaths, cycle paths and tracks, more secure bike parking and e-bike charging stations and proposals to fund a trial e-cargo bike hire scheme for businesses and residents. Bus improvements would have included better accessibility, real-time information and bus stops with living roofs.

A county council spokesperson said: “Whilst our bids in the latest round were not successful, we will continue to work closely with government to identify and access funding for the vital work we are doing to ensure no one in Surrey is left behind.”

Woking Borough Council also put in a bid for £3.8m for a ‘health and community campus’ in Sheerwater.
A £492m project is already underway to regenerate the area, which the council said is the second most deprived area in the county. The campus would have given residents access to maternity clinics, chiropody, disability support, GP services, dentistry, parenting support and nursery care.

The council said it should have a “significant and positive impact on some of the borough’s most vulnerable and harder to reach residents”. In response to the bid being unsuccessful, Cllr Will Forster (Liberal Democrat, Hoe Valley), the council’s deputy leader, said given the area being the second most deprived in Surrey, the council felt they had “a strong case”. He said the council was “disappointed” to have missed out on the latest round of Levelling Up funding. Cllr Forster added: “The next phase of the Sheerwater Regeneration Project has already commenced and we remain committed to working with partners to develop the new health and community campus and delivering the much needed facilities.”

Tandridge District Council’s application for £8.7m would have meant money being put towards regenerating Caterham, including new flood measures to help with the regular flooding there. The East Surrey MP, Claire Coutinho, thanked the district council for its work in putting together the bid, and said she was “disappointed” the money was not awarded. She added: “I will work with Tandridge District Council and central government to explore all future funding opportunities, to make sure that East Surrey gets the funding it needs to improve our towns and villages.”

The leader of the council, Councillor Catherine Sayer (Independents and OLRG Alliance, Oxted North & Tandridge), said: “We are extremely disappointed our bid for funding was unsuccessful. We planned to use this funding to regenerate Caterham, boost the local economy, attract more people to work, visit and live in the area and introduce much needed flood alleviation measures. This would build on the work we’ve already done to improve Caterham Valley town centre.” She said a lot of time and hard work had been put into the bid, and said the council would look for feedback on the application and appeal the decision if possible. Cllr Sayer added: “We will also consider another bid when government confirms details of the third round of funding.”

Councils which did not apply for the funding:

The other district and borough councils did not apply for levelling up funding, though some have bid for and received central government funding in the form of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. These included a £1m award to Elmbridge Borough Council to be used for the Walton Playhouse and in playgrounds, and the same amount to Runnymede Borough Council which it will use for transforming Chertsey high street and grants for new businesses.

The full list of councils which did not make a bid for Levelling up funding were:

Reigate & Banstead Borough Council
Spelthorne Borough Council
Mole Valley District Council
Elmbridge Borough Council
Runnymede Borough Council
Surrey Heath Borough Council
Epsom & Ewell Borough Council
Guildford Borough Council
Waverley Borough Council

Related reports:

Surrey County Council on the level.

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