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“Uttoxeter does not feature on wish list”

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1 month, 10 days agoNo Comments.
7 JUL

“Uttoxeter does not feature on wish list”

By timesecholife on in All News, Uttoxeter news

A councillor has raised concern that a bid for Government cash for East Staffordshire does not include any initiative for Uttoxeter. Uttoxeter Town councillor Rob Hawkins has contacted the Uttoxeter Echo to express his concerns that only Burton-on-Trent has been listed for potential improvements if the East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC)’s bid for Government Levelling Up Funding is successful.

A councillor has raised concern that a bid for Government cash for East Staffordshire does not include any initiative for Uttoxeter.

Uttoxeter Town councillor Rob Hawkins has contacted the Uttoxeter Echo to express his concerns that only Burton-on-Trent has been listed for potential improvements if the East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC)’s bid for Government Levelling Up Funding is successful.

ESBC sent out a press release about their bid last month. Within it a spokesman stated: “East Staffordshire Borough Council is pleased to confirm that it will be bidding for £20 million from the second round of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

The bid will look to secure significant funding towards the continuing regeneration of Burton upon Trent town centre, and will be formed of three interventions.

These three exciting initiatives are being developed in line with the outcome of the public consultation held in May and would deliver culture, leisure and education enhancements to Burton under the following themes: Revitalising the Market Quarter; Creating a new indoor action sports centre; Investing in Bass House and introducing new uses.”

Within the press release, councillor George Allen, leader of ESBC, said:“This is a fantastic opportunity for Burton as we bid to this highly competitive fund to further our regeneration activities around the town centre, focusing on areas that the public have told us are the highest priority for them.

The proposals are still high level, and so concepts and costings have been identified for the purposes of the bid which if successful will be subject to further, focused consultation and engagement in order to ensure the proposals continue to reflect the ambitions of the town.”

Cllr Hawkins has since told the Uttoxeter Echo of his concerns that Uttoxeter is not included in the bid. He said: “So, where will that £20 million Levelling Up funding opportunity go? Well, certainly not to Uttoxeter, that’s for sure.

News that Uttoxeter does not feature on East Staffordshire Borough Council’s Levelling Up Fund (Round Two) ‘wish list’ should come as no surprise. The surprise is that so little was known about it by the public.

Admittedly, there was short timescale, for bidding to take place; and council Cabinet members opted to refer to the choices suggested by councillors in April.

However, the lack of information – let alone the chance for consultation – should come as no surprise to any of us in Uttoxeter; given the Tory record, in this regard.

Public consultation took place during May and residents were asked to place 11 intervention schemes in order of importance.

There was the grand total of 367 responses from the whole of the borough, but I don’t remember being asked … do you?

As a result, the three ‘winners’ were all Burton-based: revitalizing the Market Square (£6-£6.5 million); creation of a new indoor action sports centre (£7-8 million); and investment in the Bass building (£7-8 million).

Uttoxeter was mentioned, in the ‘other runners’ list as ‘Improvements in Uttoxeter.’ No specifics: no ‘where;’ no ‘why;’ no nothing.”

Cllr Hawkins continued: “What were our borough representatives, who are all Tories, up to?

Did they not know what was wanted? Couldn’t they be bothered to speak up on Uttoxeter’s behalf and then tell the electorate about it?

Was this another example of keeping us in the dark and hoping for the best – which seems to have been a successful Tory strategy, in the past.

As far as I recall, there was no report about this fund, to the town council, even though the leader of the borough council(since resigned) is a town council member. Come to think of it, we haven’t heard much from the Uttoxeter Tory councillor, who took his place.

So, if this helps, here are some ideas to help the Uttoxeter Tories – ideas that meet the fund criteria of ‘regeneration and town centre development’ and ‘cultural’ investment, to improve ‘everyday life’: Develop Pennycroft Park facilities, which are in real need of investment to meet the needs of the north of the town, for all ages and abilities; Regenerate a major gateway to our town centre, the Bus Station and entrance to the Maltings Car Park, and get ahead of the Master Plan developments; Boost the work being done on Biodiversity, to make Uttoxeter a leader in this field and [especially] to create green corridors around the town.

This is not hard. It is what people want. And finding out about Uttoxeter’s needs is not too difficult either: just read the excellent Neighbourhood Plan, agreed with local residents and developed under the previous Labour administration, which is now being reviewed.

That will give you plenty of additional ideas for the future.”

Cllr Hawkins added: “A major regeneration project would have also brought much needed job opportunities, to the town.

It is very instructive that, in their own brochure, St Mowden’s Logistics stated that investor companies would benefit from utilising the proposed Meadow Park development: because average salaries, in Uttoxeter, are lower than the regional and national average for warehouse operatives, with “typical gross weekly salary, of £428 per week, being lower than other catchments.”

So, there you have it: a town that (apparently) doesn’t need any regeneration; but offers low incomes to attract commercial investment.

All that, and a cost-of-living crisis, too: I just wonder who benefits from all that?”

The Uttoxeter Echo has contacted both the leader of ESBC, councillor George Allen, and also the press office at ESBC, for a response regarding cllr Hawkins concerns over the Levelling Up Bid.

At the time of going to print, we had not yet received any response from either.

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