Worksop town centre desperately needs a boost and I have been moving heaven and earth at Westminster to try and secure funding for its regeneration.
Worksopians are incredibly proud of our historic town, but its potential is not being maximised and the message from constituents has been loud and clear that the town centre lets us down. There’s so much than can be achieved, but for that to happen we need investment. That comes from people wanting to set up businesses in Worksop, but sometimes this needs a kickstart, and this is the reasoning behind the Conservative Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
Last time around Worksop missed out on this fund. This made national news for all the wrong reasons, when it emerged that no bid had actually been submitted by Bassetlaw District Council and as a result the deadline had been missed. Indeed, I met with the minister concerned and also raised a question at PMQs on this very subject.
Local people were understandably angry about this. Former Council Leader Simon Greaves took the hit, as the buck effectively stopped at the top, despite the bid being the responsibility of his Deputy, the Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Jo White. I expressed my own disappointment at missing out on this opportunity to secure £20 million for our town and with this in mind I set about seeing what I could do to salvage the situation.
Thankfully, the Government announced we would get a second bite at the cherry and a chance to bid again at a later date. To his credit, the Council Leader took the bid away from the portfolio holder, forming an independently chaired panel made up of members of the local community, and then launched a public consultation. I also joined this panel and we put political differences aside to work together to put together the strongest bid possible. This is how it should be.
I am confident that this bid is a good one and I have been lobbying non-stop to try and ensure we receive this much needed funding. Making better use of the area surrounding the Priory Centre will also help solve other issues, such as the daft situation with Lidl’s proposed new site being turned down – presumably to encourage filling a half empty shopping centre. Nobody is going to pay to park at a supermarket when there are other options available for free.
We have already secured so much investment for Bassetlaw, but this one is vital for Worksop. Fingers crossed.