JAMES Grundy has expressed his disappointment at the Council's Levelling Up bid for Leigh, explaining that he could not support a bid for less than £20m.

The Council have submitted a bid of £11.4m to regenerate Leigh town centre, looking to secure funding from the Government's £4.8b Levelling Up fund.

The proposals look to revamp Civic Square, enhance town centre shop fronts, and refurbish Leigh Market.

A £20m proposal was put forward for Wigan, with a focus on transforming Haigh Hall into a "cultural visitor destination of national significance".

A third bid of £7.2m bid was submitted in Ashton-in-Makerfield to improve the shop fronts and exteriors of its town centre buildings, as well as the creation of a new market and community space, along with general improvements to Gerard Street.

Leigh Journal: The Council's Levelling Up bid looks to revamp Civic SquareThe Council's Levelling Up bid looks to revamp Civic Square

Opting not to give his support for the Levelling Up bid in Leigh, James Grundy MP said: 

"I am disappointed at the partial and misleading account of events put forward by Wigan Council.

"Throughout this process, I was clear that the Leigh bid should be for the full £20 million allocated to Leigh as priority one status Levelling Up funding by the Government.

"This is, after all, how the bid for the town of Wigan has been treated by the Council. I only ask for equal treatment for Leigh.

"Toward the end of the process, in the last few weeks, the Council dropped a major component of the bid for a multi-million pound Business Centre in Leigh.

"As a result, the consultation put out by the Council on the proposals, for just £10-12 million of the £20 million, only received 42 per cent support from the public of Leigh for their plans.

"No other options were put forward by the council for the remaining £8-10 million. There are multiple ways this remaining £8 million could be spent in Leigh, and that funding is desperately needed.

"I could not support a Wigan Council Levelling Up Fund proposal opposed by nearly 60% of Leigh residents, and for only about half the money Leigh is entitled to.

"The current bid must be improved to utilise the full £20 million in an effective manner, and then I will give it my support, but certainly not before.

"The attitude of Wigan Council towards the Levelling Up fund bid for Leigh will only convince Leigh residents further that we are second class citizens in Wigan Borough. 

"That isn't good enough for me, and it isn't good enough for my constituents."

Leigh Journal: An illustration of a revamped Civic Square (Pic: Wigan Council)An illustration of a revamped Civic Square (Pic: Wigan Council)

Mr Grundy confirmed that he will support a "properly put-together" bid in the next round of Levelling Up funding next year, provided it is for the full £20m available to local authorities.

After previous criticism for not applying for the full £20m available, the Council stated that the proposals in Leigh present "the best possible chance of securing money" against the government's strict criteria. 

Leigh Journal: The Council look to improve shop fronts across the town centre in LeighThe Council look to improve shop fronts across the town centre in Leigh

Aidan Thatcher, Director of Growth and Economy at Wigan Council said: 

"The Levelling Up Fund (LUF) is a competitive bidding process for up to £20million, with stringent criteria set out by the Government that all applications are assessed against; there is no guarantee of £20million or that any bid will be successful.

"Feedback from round one has confirmed that bids which do not perform well on all criteria are unlikely to be successful.

"The package we have selected performs well against all the government’s criteria and therefore presents the best possible chance of securing money to invest in Leigh town centre.

"The Levelling Up Fund by itself cannot solve every issue facing Leigh town centre, but a successful bid will be the start of a transformation of the town.

"We are not stopping here; other local and national government programmes will complement the LUF to help address barriers to investment and growth."