Conservative Government lets Kempston down
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough
In the recent Budget announcement, it was revealed that the government have failed to grant any of the £15 million of Levelling Up funding to Kempston that Bedford Borough Council had bid for. Commenting on this announcement, Mayor Dave Hodgson said "I am very disappointed with this outcome. The funds could've been used to greatly boost the economic vitality of the town centre, by regenerating the existing spaces and improving the walking and cycling infrastructure. The Saxon Centre is one of the focal points of Kempston Town Centre and it is disappointing we were not granted the funds to regenerate the area."
The government's levelling-up fund is designed to combat regional inequality by investing in infrastructure that "brings pride to a local area", according to the scheme's prospectus. Among the projects set out in the bid for Kempston were two foot bridges, cycle and foot path improvements (including street lighting), a cycle park, an e-bike charging hub and funding towards a new health hub. The neighbouring Central Bedfordshire Council, which is partly represented by the Conservative Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, received £26.7 million in levelling-up funding despite being among the 25% least deprived areas in the country.
Liberal Democrat Portfolio Holder for Town Centres and Planning Councillor Henry Vann said "There is a real risk that the Department for Levelling Up is becoming the Department of Letting Down. When you examine the allocation of funds across the country, it raises a lot of questions and I think the people of Kempston deserve answers and investment in our communities."