High Peak councillor accuses Government of snubbing town after town misses out on £20m of funding

Pictured Is Victoria Hall, On Talbot Street, GlossopPictured Is Victoria Hall, On Talbot Street, Glossop
Pictured Is Victoria Hall, On Talbot Street, Glossop
High Peak council’s deputy leader has accused the Government of snubbing Glossop after the Derbyshire town missed out on £20m of Levelling Up funding despite criticism from the borough’s MP that the authority’s bid had been flawed.

The Conservative Government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities has released feedback outlining the reasons why officials rejected High Peak Borough Council’s bid for a £20m investment for Glossop from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

But Deputy Leader of Labour-controlled High Peak Borough Council, Damien Greenhalgh, and Labour’s parliamentary candidate for High Peak, Jon Pearce, have both voiced their disappointment at the Government’s decision and both feel the High Peak has been overlooked.

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Cllr Greenhalgh said: “As a born and bred Glossopian I am deeply disappointed by the Government’s decision to snub Glossop. There are clear questions to be answered over how this funding has been allocated across the country.”

Pictured Is Labour\'S Parliamentary Candidate For Derbyshire\'S High Peak Jon PearcePictured Is Labour\'S Parliamentary Candidate For Derbyshire\'S High Peak Jon Pearce
Pictured Is Labour\'S Parliamentary Candidate For Derbyshire\'S High Peak Jon Pearce

High Peak council’s funding bid was assessed by independent civil servants on a range of criteria, according to High Peak Conservative MP Robert Largan who claimed that the authority scored poorly on the measures used to prioritise funding applications.

But Labour parliamentary candidate for High Peak, Jon Pearce, stated that Glossop has been overlooked and the rejection of the council’s bid means the town has missed out again on a £20m investment plan that would have seen a new leisure and wellbeing centre in Glossop and improvements to the community arts venue Victoria Hall.

He added: “Yet again Glossop has been overlooked by this Government, when areas all around us are getting much needed Levelling Up funding. We pay our taxes. We deserve our fair share. But we are not getting it with this Government.

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“Had the Government supported the bid, it would have provided a massive boost for the local economy at a time when we are facing the largest fall in living standards on record and the stagnation of our economy.

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Pictured Is Derbyshire\'S High Peak Conservative Mp Robert LarganPictured Is Derbyshire\'S High Peak Conservative Mp Robert Largan
Pictured Is Derbyshire\'S High Peak Conservative Mp Robert Largan

“The wellbeing hub would also have increased access to healthcare services. This is desperately needed with so many people contacting me about the perilous state of the NHS locally.”

But Conservative High Peak MP Mr Largan claimed that independent officials examining the council’s Levelling Up bid were concerned about the lack of detailed costs, timelines, and whether the council had secured the relevant planning permission and as a result the bid was not shortlisted for ministerial approval.

He also claims that officials concluded that the council’s bid, which was supported with £100,000 of Government money, represented too great a risk for taxpayers because of the lack of detailed designs, outstanding formal consents and an agreed land deal for the leisure centre site.

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The Department officials advised the council of the need to appoint design teams to work up planning applications, according to Mr Largan, and to undertake early construction company engagement to confirm the project’s final cost.

Mr Largan said that officials also stated that more detail was required on the monitoring and evaluation of the project to ensure value for money and timeliness.

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The High Peak MP added that the council’s Net Zero and low carbonisation plans were also criticised because they ‘lacked detail’.

Mr Largan said that there had been concerns raised that the council had not consulted with residents or included their views in the final bid, particularly regarding the closure of Glossop swimming pool in Howard Park, and after the authority had previously failed to submit a bid to the first round of funding back in June.

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But Cllr Greenhalgh said: ““The local Conservative MP has failed to deliver on his promises for High Peak. He was happy to try and take the credit when he thought the bid would be successful but is now trying to pass the buck, once again.

“When bids in other areas were rejected in Round Two of the competitive bidding process, other MPs, both Conservative and Labour, worked with their councils and Government ministers to secure the funding this time.

“You only need look at what Andrew Gwynne MP has achieved nearby for Denton.

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“Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, who share the same council officers and bid-writing team with High Peak Borough Council, were successful in their £17million bid for Leek.

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“The difference? Their Conservative MP was in lockstep with councillors and council officers, making a forceful and successful case to Tory ministers in Westminster.

“I have always been – and always will be – unashamedly ambitious for Glossop and our community’s future. This is a real kick in the teeth for everyone who believes in our town, its heritage and its future. But we will continue to do it ourselves, as we always have.”

However, the office of the High Peak MP stated that Mr Largan met with the council on multiple occasions and consistently ‘chased them’ and claimed he was excluded from key decisions and he did not receive a copy of the council’s full bid until just a few days before the extended final deadline.

Mr Largan’s office also claims that despite having received feedback, the council appeared not to have made an effort to improve its bid.

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The High Peak MP said: “The sad truth is that Labour failed to do their homework. This was an historic opportunity for High Peak. It has sadly been squandered by Labour’s incompetence yet again.

“However, I am not giving up. Where the council have failed, I’m stepping in with extensive negotiations with ministers to make the case for further investment in High Peak.”

But Labour parliamentary candidate Mr Pearce stressed he was disappointed that Glossop had been overlooked when it did not get any of the money that was being handed out to 55 other ‘priority’ towns across the country.

The Government announced on September 30 that 55 towns that had been ‘overlooked and taken for granted’ were to be given £20m endowment-style funds each over ten years, according to Mr Pearce’s office, to invest in local priorities but none of this funding was awarded to any High Peak towns.

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Mr Pearce said: “This Conservative Government has deliberately created a system of winners and losers – today the people of Glossop and surrounding communities are the losers.

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“In stark contrast – the next Labour Government will give local leaders powers to drive growth and deliver prosperity in all our towns and communities.”

There had been three rounds involved in the bidding process for Levelling Up funding and the first two were run on a competitive basis, according to Mr Pearce’s office, and in Round Three funding was awarded to those who were successful in Round Two.

It was hoped a successful £20 million bid would have delivered a much-needed new combined leisure centre, health, and wellbeing hub on the former Glossopdale School site, on Talbot Road, providing facilities for the future while increasing access to healthcare services.

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The funding had also been earmarked to secure the future of Victoria Hall, on Talbot Street, as a community hall and live performance venue and it was hoped that the proposals would also have been a catalyst for further high street regeneration supporting the £7m refurbishment of Glossop Town Hall which is currently underway.