Levelling up cash great for Powys because they missed out on EU funds, says council leader
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
The UK Government’s levelling up fund is great for Powys because they missed out on the bulk of EU funds, the council leader has said.
Wales received £800m from the EU in the last decade before Brexit but the bulk of the money went to the West Wales and the Valleys region which was one of the poorest in western Europe.
Powys found itself in the comparatively wealthier East Wales region, which included Cardiff, and therefore saw less of an EU windfall.
So while the fund has been condemned by politicians in other parts of Wales, Powys County Council leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris pointed at the council’s cabinet meeting that unlike many parts of the country, Powys had not received European funding during the UK’s time in the European Union.
She congratulated staff who had successfully worked on bids to get £22 million from the UK Government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund for the county.
Cllr Harris said: ”I just wanted to say thank you and congratulations to the officers and the Cabinet members who were involved in the work.
“For Powys, it really is levelling up because in the past, we haven’t been lucky enough to receive the EU structural funding which other local authorities had received.
“We are extremely pleased that we have acquired £16 million for the developing another stretch of the Montgomery canal.
“The economic potential is enormous in terms of new business and for job creation.
“So, there’ll be a lot of work to do going forward to get these projects off the starting blocks really, but we’re grateful to everybody, particularly to our two members of parliament, Craig Williams MP (Montgomeryshire) and to Fay Jones MP (Brecon and Radnorshire).
“I couldn’t let that go unannounced this morning that I am very, very pleased.”
Over 60% of the money doled out by the levelling up fund to Wales went to the constituencies of Conservative MPs.
The Montgomery canal project receives £15.486 million which is supposed to be used to restore a 4.4-mile section of canal to navigate from the Wales-England border at Llanymynech south to Arddleen.
The hope is that this will increase the number of boats that use it annually from the current 500 boats to 2,500 per year and allow kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards to navigate the waterway.
The remaining £6.9 million will be used to fund three projects in Brecon and Radnorshire. Two of these are in Brecon.
The council plan to set up a “multi-agency hub” that will bring together organisations from the public, private and third sector in a flexible work environment
If this comes to fruition land and buildings in Brecon town centre could be freed up to help further economic regeneration and redevelopment there.
The second project there is to spend on Theatr Brycheiniog.
The third project is in Llandrindod Wells, and is supposed to redevelop a brownfield site which has been derelict for 15 years, to build houses on.