Questions asked after Hyde misses out on chance of regeneration funds

QUESTIONS are to be asked why Hyde lost out in a bid to land Government cash to help fund a much-needed regeneration of the town centre.

Tameside Council had submitted two bids for Hyde and Stalybridge for money from the £675million Future High Streets Fund.

After the Government announced which boroughs and tows are progressing to the next stage – they did not include Hyde or Stalybridge – there was huge disappointment in the town.

Cllr Phil Chadwick, who represents Hyde Werneth, said the Conservative group will be asking what went wrong.

He said: “It is disappointing for Hyde which desperately needs funding to boost the town.

“If we had managed to secure several millions of pounds it would have made a massive difference to the town.”

Looking back, Cllr Chadwick said: “I was pleasantly surprised when I attended a budget meeting in February and found out a bid had been made for Hyde.

“I applauded council leader Brenda Warrington at the meeting because Hyde needs help.”

Cllr Chadwick is keen to discover what went wrong and why Hyde and Stalybridge both lost out.

He continued: “I would not have been surprised to lose out to Stalybridge as they are much further ahead of Hyde with their plans (part of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s Town Centre Challenge).

“For both to lose out when neighbouring Labour run councils at Stockport, Oldham and High Peak have been shortlisted prompts the question why?

“We will be wanting to know who wrote the bid and what was set out in it. It will be the usual what, why, how?”

Labour’s Cllr Jim Fitzpatrick, who represents Hyde Godley, described it as an “absolute disgrace” that Hyde had missed out.

“I had hoped the Government would have recognised Hyde and it is disappointing they have let us down.”

Cllr Fitzpatrick added it will be a case of looking for other ways of funding moves to kick start Hyde.

He also gave a vision for the future, explaining: “Hyde has to be more than a shopping centre, a destination and a niche as we need to increase footfall.

“The Future High Streets Fund would have provided the kick start we needed.

“It shows the state of the economy that 300 towns were bidding for money and how they are all trying to regenerate their centres.” 

Labour’s Cllr Philip Fitzpatrick, who represents Hyde Newton, revealed he and fellow councillors were consulted before the bid was made to put forward their thoughts.

He said: “We put together what we thought was an excellent bid and it is unfortunate we have missed out.

“It is very, very disappointing for Hyde. We will not give up and continue to do the best for the town we represent.”

A statement from the local authority read: “Tameside Council is disappointed to not have been one of the 50 areas across the country invited to progress to business case development stage for the national Future High Streets Fund. 

“We have a strong track record of bringing investment to our town centres with Stalybridge currently designated as part of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Town Centre Challenge. 

“We recognise this was a highly competitive process with more than 300 local authorities making at least one bid with a mixture of cities and towns having been selected by Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government.

“Tameside entered strong bids for both Stalybridge and Hyde town centres. We will continue to build on this work to create and develop our town centres plans. 

“We are actively looking at other opportunities to continue to increase investment in our town centres.”

Fifty-one local areas have been picked to go through to the next round of the Future High Streets Fund.

The successful areas will now each receive up to £150,000 of funding to work on detailed proposals to regenerate and transform their town centres. Some of them will eventually receive multi-million pound funding to complete their projects.

The £675m fund was announced last December to enable councils to revitalise ailing high streets and make them “fit for the future”.

Prime Minister Theresa May admitted that new technology and changes in the way we shop means that high streets face “growing challenges”.

“The funding will breathe new life into town centres and – together with measures such as small business rate cuts and opening up empty shops – will transform our high streets for the future,” she added.

There were more than 300 bids to the fund, which was open to all 326 councils with planning powers – so at least 249 councils (83 per cent) were rejected. 

And for the 51 who have made it through, there is no guarantee of further investment funding to shortlisted places if the proposals put forward are “not sufficiently developed or fail to demonstrate adequate value for money or deliverability”.

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