Wakefield Councillors Demand More Action On Levelling Up
Wakefield Council’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Growth are today calling on the Government for more action on levelling up.
The senior Councillors have written to Secretary of State Michael Gove MP. They are urging him to set out if there will be a further round of levelling up funding, say when it will happen, end the costly and time-consuming process of Councils competing against each other for investment, and explain how Wakefield benefits from being selected as a ‘Levelling Up Partner.'
The move comes after the Council’s three funding bids were unsuccessful in the last round of levelling up funding, announced in January 2023. This left key parts of the Council’s vital regeneration plans unfunded. Government help is central to securing further investment into the district.
Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “Investment into our communities is essential as part of our aspirations to spread opportunity to every part of our district. We have huge ambitions that will transform the district for residents and businesses. But without the funding we cannot drive our plans forward, and that’s why the mixed messages and lack of information coming from Government is so damaging."
“We need clarity on if, and when, future funding will be made available. And if it is, there needs to be a fairer process in place, based on need, than we’ve seen before. No more expectation that local areas should compete against each other for limited funds."
In March, Wakefield was announced as one of 20 Levelling Up Partnership areas. The Council is now calling on the Government to see tangible benefits from this partnership.
Cllr Michael Graham, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Growth, said: “We want everyone, no matter where they are, to have access to great facilities and to live in a community they can continue to be proud of."
“But we now have huge concerns that our selection as a levelling up partner may not actually lead to anything material for Wakefield. The programme has been slow to take shape and to be properly defined. And unfortunately, at the moment it seems to be yet another example of the Government not delivering for our district."
“I’d urge the Government to clarify what funding we will get as part of our Levelling Up Partnership, to help us move forward with the ambitious and exciting plans that we have.”
The Council’s letter outlines how it’s especially important for places which were unsuccessful in the Levelling Up Round 2 bids, including Knottingley and South Kirkby, to be at the heart of any upcoming discussions.
Cllr Jeffery added: “We are urging the Government to recognise the importance of providing funding to help Knottingley and South Kirkby. And to give us the chance to secure further investment that would make a major difference in our towns.”