Boris Johnson has revealed his new administration will launch a £3.6bn fund to support 100 struggling towns around the country.
In a wide-ranging speech at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum on Saturday (27 July), the new prime minister said ‘we are going to put proper money into the places that need it’.
Mr Johnson said his new government will bring forward plans for UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is due to replace regeneration cash from the EU after Brexit and that there would be growth deals for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘And we’re now going to have a £3.6bn Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns,’ said Mr Johnson.
‘So that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need.
‘They’ll also get help with that vital social and cultural infrastructure, from libraries and art centres to parks and youth services, the institutions that bring communities together, and give places new energy and new life,’ he added.
He also promised that towns, cities and regions will be given a greater say over ‘their own destinies’ with greater powers for council leaders and communities.
‘We are going to level up the powers offered to mayors so that more people can benefit from the kind of local government structures seen in London and here in Manchester,’ he explained.
‘We are going to give more communities a greater say over changes to transport, housing, public services and infrastructure that will benefit their areas and drive local growth.
‘And in doing so, we will see to it that every part of this country sees the benefits of the potentially massive opportunity that will come from Brexit.’
The chairman of the Local Government Association, Cllr James Jamieson said the announcement of a £3.6bn fund is ‘good news for local communities and businesses seeking to improve their prospects’.
‘It recognises that democratically elected local councils have a key role to play in delivering better transport links, digital connectivity, housing, and all the important infrastructure like parks and libraries that creates strong communities and economies,’ said Cllr Jamieson.
‘The prime minister has rightly acknowledged the need to bring decision-making closer to local people. It is vital that communities in all parts of the country have access to the benefits of devolution. When councils have the freedoms and funding to make local decisions, there is clear and significant evidence that outcomes improve and the country gets better value for money.’
But Labour’s shadow transport minister, Rachel Maskell said the prime minister was ‘pretending he’s interested in the North after decades of Tory neglect’.
‘This speech shows that nothing has changed once again.’
Photo Credit – EU2017EE Estonian Presidency
Senior reporter – NewStart