THERE has been much interest over the last couple of weeks over Wigan Councils’ £11.5 million Levelling Up fund bid for Leigh.

Whilst we have seen many local success stories of investment in Leigh over the past few months, such as the £24m upgrade to Fred Longworth High, the £20m pound expansion to Leigh Infirmary, the multi-million pound upgrade to Golborne High School and the significant expansion to Leigh Police Station with a new tactical aid unit being based there, the Levelling Up fund bid was thus notable in its failure.

I’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight about some of the Levelling Up rumours circulating in the press and social media. The first being that the bid only failed because I as MP did not back it. Wigan Council’s bid for Leigh did not score highly enough to be passed to the second stage, meaning it didn’t clear the basic tests set by the Civil Servants who check quality of bids before they are passed up the chain. Therefore even if I had given it my full support the bid would still have failed. It also doesn’t explain how neighbouring Ashton-in-Makerfield’s bid failed. That bid was backed by their Labour MP and again, didn’t make it past the first stage.

I have also seen some local Labour politicians saying ‘some money is better than no money’ on social media. This is the attitude that has condemned Leigh to second class citizenship for far too long under Labour governance, it is clear that this is not the attitude that Labour takes with Wigan and again demonstrates the double-standard Labour employs between Leigh and Wigan.

Leigh Journal: James Grundy MPJames Grundy MP (Image: James Grundy MP)

I have also heard the argument that the government rejected bids in the North due to a bias to providing funding for the South. The fact is that only 13 per cent of successful bids were awarded to London and the South East. It is also true that the largest single project to receive support was the Morcambe Eden project in the North West.

Finally and perhaps the most telling rebuttal is the fact Wigan Council's own bid for the full amount of £20m was granted for Wigan for Haigh Hall.

The fact of the matter is that the bid for Leigh was sub-standard, which is why it wasn’t backed by me and fell at the first hurdle when scrutinised. I have since met again with Wigan Council and have reiterated my stance that I will only back a bid if it is for the full £20m available and if it is backed by local residents and businesses.

Wigan Council have confirmed to me that they intend to submit a much fuller bid for the next round. Sometimes it’s necessary to hold out for a better deal for Leigh and I am proud that I have done so, but all this could have been avoided had Wigan bid for the full £20m in the first place as businesses, and residents called for.