WIGAN Council said it is "extremely disappointed" to have lost out on funding to regenerate Leigh town centre, after submitting a bid the town's MP called "deeply flawed".

Following the second round of the government's Levelling Up Fund, Wigan Council has been unsuccessful in its £11.4m bid to regenerate central areas of Leigh.

Able to submit bids of up to £20m for each constituency, the local authority also failed with a £7.2m bid for Ashton-in-Makerfield but was successful in its £20m submission for Haigh Hall.

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Leigh Journal: An illustration of the proposed revamp of Civic SquareAn illustration of the proposed revamp of Civic Square (Image: Wigan Council)

With councils across the country competing for a share of the government's £4.8bn funding pot, many were disappointed that the authority did not apply for the full £20m available back in August.

Others believed that the bid, which looked to revamp Civic Square, enhance shop fronts in the town centre, and refurbish Leigh Market, was doomed to fail as it was submitted without the support of the town's MP, James Grundy.

MP 'not surprised' by Levelling Up rejection

Leigh Journal: The Council planned to revamp shop fronts in the town centre The Council planned to revamp shop fronts in the town centre (Image: Wigan Council)

Following the news that Leigh's Levelling Up bid was rejected by the government, Mr Grundy said this "comes as no surprise".

The Conservative MP said: "The deeply flawed Wigan Council Levelling Up Fund (LUF) bid for Leigh has been rejected.

"This comes as no surprise to me, as Wigan Council did not have the support of either local residents or the local business community for this bid, which was far inferior to the bid submitted for the town of Wigan.

"Even the consultation run by Wigan Council showed that local people rejected the proposals, with 60% of Leigh residents refusing to support this inadequate plan for our town, and as a result, I could not support the bid either.

"The LUF bid was always inadequate and doomed to fail, as I said at the time it was put forward. It is clear that, as usual, Wigan Council focussed their efforts on securing a successful bid for Wigan alone.

"Leigh needs to have the same opportunity to Level Up as Wigan, and we deserve nothing less."

Mr Grundy said that he looks forward to working with the council and relevant parties for the next round of Levelling Up funding, on the condition that the bid is for the full £20m available.

Council frustration at loss of MP support

Leigh Journal: Leigh Market refurbishments were planned in the bid Leigh Market refurbishments were planned in the bid (Image: Wigan Council)

Spending months consulting with Mr Grundy, as well as residents, stakeholders, and business owners, leader of the council, Cllr David Molyneux, said it was "extremely frustrating" to lose this support in the latter stages of the process.

With councils across the country bidding for funding, Cllr Molyneux said that Leigh's £11.4m bid was submitted to meet the government's "strict requirements" as a whole bid can fail if one proposal is rejected.

"We firmly believe our proposals across all three bids find the right balance between ambition and achievability", he said at the time of submission.

While previously having higher degrees of support, the council reported that it had 42% positive feedback, 10% neutral and 48% negative for its £11.4m Leigh bid.

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Council 'extremely disappointed' to have missed out on funding

Leigh Journal: Leigh will not receive funding for any of its Levelling Up proposalsLeigh will not receive funding for any of its Levelling Up proposals (Image: Wigan Council)

Following its unsuccessful Levelling Up bids for Leigh and Ashton-in-Makefield, a Wigan Council spokesperson said: "We submitted three strong bids for this second round of the Levelling Up Fund and are extremely disappointed to have missed out given that the proposals met the government’s criteria.

"Both the Leigh and Ashton bids were submitted with the help of local organisations, businesses and communities and Wigan Council will ask for feedback from DLUHC on why they were not successful in this round.

"Despite these setbacks, we will continue to support high streets to thrive and deliver improvements that people want to see, while showcasing our spectacular heritage.

"In Leigh, the LUF bid formed only part of our long-term vision as outlined by the town’s Strategic Regeneration Framework with a £2m investment in the new Youth Hub facility, £2.5m at Pennington Flash and regeneration of Leigh Town Hall, in recent years.  

"We will continue to explore all avenues available to us regarding key regeneration projects, including external funding, whether that is through further rounds of the LUF or alternatives."