War of words continues over rival councils’ levelling up bids
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Denbighshire’s former leader has claimed Conwy has damaged relations between the two councils after ‘taking advantage’ and pulling out of a joint bid for £20m of regeneration funds.
The former leader is the latest politician to criticise Conwy County Council after they pulled out of the joint bid for £20m of UK government Levelling Up Funds, choosing to go it alone.
Having agreed to submit a joint bid in November 2021, Conwy decided it would instead go for £20m of funding available to the Clwyd West constituency, rather than share a similar sum.
Conwy is hoping to upgrade Eirias Park stadium.
But the decision left Denbighshire in a difficult position with its bid of £10m for several community projects in and around Ruthin because Clwyd West MP David Jones could only prioritise one bid.
The MP’s backing will be used by the government to score each bid, but Mr Jones prioritised Denbighshire’s, leaving Conwy facing criticism.
Earlier this week, Denbighshire’s cabinet, leader and the MP condemned Conwy for abandoning the agreement last minute and ‘risking’ millions of pounds of investment.
Now the former leader Cllr Hugh Evans has weighed in, claiming Conwy took advantage of the election period to make their move and said relations between the two neighbouring authorities had been damaged.
“I’m extremely disappointed in Conwy. When I was leader, the cabinet report was very clear there was a joint bid,” he said.
“I think they took advantage of the impasse of the election period, and when there wasn’t any leadership, they’ve thought about it differently.
“Conwy took advantage, I think, because there wasn’t any leadership in Conwy and Denbighshire, was there? So I’m not sure if the officers took advantage or the councillors. This debate has obviously taken place, and they’ve decided to go on their own, which shows a lack of respect for Denbighshire really, in terms of where we were at before the election.
“So I’m grateful for the leadership in Denbighshire for standing firm, but I’m also more grateful to the MP for supporting our bid.
“They (Conwy) possibly felt the Eirias Park bid was a bigger one and the consultants thought they had a better chance, but it was a risk they were prepared to take and a risk that hasn’t worked out for them.
“I noticed Conwy haven’t made a quote (for the previous article). Let’s see how they react. It’s really disappointing for the sake of working together, which we do across the region. It doesn’t help for future coworking. Their decision won’t help working together in the future.”
Denbighshire’s bid includes restoration work at St Peter’s Square’s clock tower, cycle and walking paths at Moel Famau and a new community centre at Gwyddelwern.
Both bids will now be assessed using the government’s scoring system. Whilst the bids are in competition with each other, it is possible both bids can be approved or rejected.
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