Welsh city and towns receive £20m from Westminster’s Levelling Up fund
Four places in Wales will each be given £20 million over a 10-year period to help regenerate high streets and tackle anti-social behaviour.
Three Welsh towns along with Wrexham, which was recently granted city-status, have been awarded part of £1.1 billion levelling up investment fund being shared out to 55 “overlooked towns” across the UK.
Merthyr Tydfil, Cwmbran, Wrexham and Barry will each receive £20 million from the UK Government as part of a long-term investment plan for towns that have been ‘overlooked and taken for granted’.
The money will be provided directly by the UK Government to the relevant local authority. They will work with local partners including the Welsh Government to make sure the funding is used to best effect.
The Prime Minister said the new long-term vision for towns, backed by £1 billion of investment, was about putting “funding in the hands of local people” to improve their communities.
The £20 million endowment-style fund – to be spent over the course of a decade is to be used on local priorities such as reviving high streets, tackling anti-social behaviour, improving transport, boosting visitor numbers and growing the local economy.
News of the investment has been released on the eve of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
Taken for granted
Prime Minister and Tory leader Rishi Sunak said: “Towns are the place most of us call home and where most of us go to work.
“But politicians have always taken towns for granted and focused on cities.
“The result is the half-empty high streets, rundown shopping centres and anti-social behaviour that undermine many towns’ prosperity and hold back people’s opportunity — and without a new approach, these problems will only get worse.
“That changes today. Our Long-Term Plan for Towns puts funding in the hands of local people themselves to invest in line with their priorities, over the long-term. That is how we level up.”
As part of the investment, the towns will set up a town board, bringing together community leaders, employers, local authorities and the local MP, to help deliver a plan for consultation.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said the town boards would be able to use a suite of regeneration powers while deploying the new funding.
Officials suggested more private sector investment could be unlocked by auctioning empty high street shops, reforming licensing rules on shops and restaurants, and supporting more housing in urban centres.
They said research showed communities want to see more green spaces created and market days established to enhance town centres, with policing hotspots implemented to make public spaces safer.
Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said: “Merthyr Tydfil, Cwmbran, Wrexham and Barry are all fantastic places and will hugely benefit from this significant investment in their future.
“We are proud to be supporting people to take control of their local areas. Levelling up is at the centre of the UK Government’s ambitions and communities across Wales will be transformed over the coming years with the investment we are making in them.”
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove added: “We know that in our towns the values of hard work and solidarity, common sense and common purpose, endeavour and quiet patriotism have endured across generations.
“But for too long, too many of our great British towns have been overlooked and undervalued.
“We are putting this right through our Long-Term Plan for Towns backed by over £1 billion of levelling up funding.
“This will empower communities in every part of the UK to take back control of their future, taking long term decisions in the interests of local people.
“It will mean more jobs, more opportunities and a brighter future for our towns and the people who live and work in them.”
DLUHC said towns had been allocated funding according to the Levelling Up Needs Index, taking into account metrics covering skills, pay, productivity and health, as well as the Index of Multiple Deprivation, to ensure funding goes directly to the towns which will benefit most.
Mr Gove’s department said the Government would work with local councils and the devolved administrations to determine how towns in Scotland and Wales will benefit from funding and powers under the proposals.
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