THE Government has given Wigan Council millions of pounds to regenerate Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Ashton was one of three areas that Wigan Council bid for regeneration funding as part of the government's Levelling Up fund, which included Leigh town centre and Haigh Hall in Wigan.

The local authority was successful with its £20m bid for Haigh Hall to transform it into a "cultural visitor destination of national significance", but was unsuccessful in securing £11.4m for Leigh and £7.2m for Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Projects in Leigh's bid included a revamped Civic Square, enhanced shop fronts in the town centre, and a refurbished Leigh Market.

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Leigh Journal: A revamped Civic Square was one of the council's Levelling Up projects for LeighA revamped Civic Square was one of the council's Levelling Up projects for Leigh (Image: Wigan Council)

In the government's recent Spring Budget announcement, it was announced that more than £200m will be delivered to Levelling Up projects that were unsuccessful from the previous round but were judged as having "value for money and deliverable".

Wigan Council's #OurFutureAshton plan was one of the 16 successful areas and will receive £6.6m for regeneration projects 

The initial Levelling Up proposals in Ashton includes improved shop fronts, upgraded streets and public spaces, new walking and cycling routes and a refresh for the town’s market square.

Leigh Journal: An artists illustration for improvements to Ashton town centreAn artists illustration for improvements to Ashton town centre (Image: Wigan Council)

As well as submitting a rigorous yet unsuccessful bid in the last Levelling Up round, some of the government's criteria to receive funding was for deliverable bids to be below £10m "to maximise the number of places that receive investment".

However, other criteria suggested that funding should be based on deliverable bids in places already identified as being in need of levelling up, with no cap on bid value. Blackburn with Darwen, Tameside, and Rotherham, for example, all received more than £19m.

Local authorities were also capped at having one successful bid for this project, so both Leigh and Ashton couldn't have both received funding this time around.

Leigh Journal: Leader of Wigan Council, Cllr David MolyneuxLeader of Wigan Council, Cllr David Molyneux (Image: Wigan Council)

Leader of Wigan Council, Councillor David Molyneux MBE, said: “We were disappointed we were unsuccessful in our LUF bid for this project as we believed the application was strong, exciting and achievable, which prompted our pledge to submit a further bid.

“Although our concerns about the levelling-up agenda remain, we welcome this funding announcement that will help us move forward with our plans.”

Aidan Thatcher, director of growth and economy at Wigan Council, added: “The plans are centred on the heart of the town centre, including the historic market site, Garswood Street and Gerard Street, and celebrate the town’s cultural heritage.

“We have had very positive contributions from stakeholders such as the local business community, residents during the public consultation, and the LUF bid had the support of the MP for Makerfield, Yvonne Fovargue.

“We will look forward to progressing through the action plan now this funding is in place.”

Wigan Council has confirmed that it will submit another bid for Leigh town centre in the next round of the government's Levelling Up fund.

After withdrawing his support for the council's £11.4m bid, Leigh MP James Grundy says he will only support a bid that is for the full £20m available.