The Prime Minister’s ‘New Deal’ for Britain: Additional investment to level up Swindon

By Jamie Hill - 30 June 2020

Politics

• Government to kickstart the economic recovery from coronavirus with £5 billion of infrastructure projects.

• 101 places to receive at least an additional £500,000 to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets or transport links, including Swindon

• Part of a package of £96 million for town centres and high streets via the Towns Fund, and comes on top of the £3.2 billion provided to local authorities throughout the coronavirus outbreak

Swindon MPs Justin Tomlinson and Robert Buckland have welcomed news that the Prime Minister has announced additional funding to level up Swindon. The announcement is part of a wider economic package to accelerate infrastructure projects, fuelling jobs and the country’s economic recovery following coronavirus. 

Towns across England that have successfully been selected to receive investment via the Government’s Towns Fund will benefit from a share of £96m to accelerate investment in their town centres and high streets this year.

As part of this, Swindon will receive between £500,000 and £1 million to spend on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets and local transport. It is receiving the funding as one of the 101 towns previously selected for town deals, under the Conservative Government’s plans to level up places across the country.

The Towns Fund is targeted at areas with proud industrial and economic heritage that have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas. Today’s announcement brings the first tranche of money from the Fund to help each area meet some of the immediate challenges they face as a result of COVID-19 and invest in shovel ready projects that will improve their town centres forward, from new cycle lanes and better pedestrian access to repurposing empty shops to create new community spaces.

The Prime Minister has announced £5 billion to invest in Britain’s infrastructure, as part of the New Deal for Britain, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The package of measures, including improving town centres, is designed to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure and skills to fuel economic recovery across the UK.

This builds on the £3.2 billion the Government has provided to local authorities throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to help them keep key local services running. The funding has meant that local authorities have been able to continue to provide essential services, including getting rough sleepers off the street, supporting people who have been shielding and providing vital social care.

Commenting, Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP and Justin Tomlinson MP said: “We are delighted that Swindon will receive at least £500,000 from the Stronger Towns fund this year – ahead of schedule – enabling local leaders to accelerate plans that will transform our area and help Swindon to thrive as we move beyond the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to invest in infrastructure to unite and level up the country as we come through the coronavirus pandemic.

“The £5billion to bring forward infrastructure projects of all types, from better connected, more modern high streets to new schools and roads, will help to create new jobs and opportunities across Britain, and we will be fighting to ensure our area gets its fair share.”

Reacting to the Prime Minister’s speech in Dudley this morning, Cllr. Jim Grant, Leader of the Labour Group on Swindon Borough Council, said:

“I agree with what [Labour leader] Keir Starmer has said when he described the Prime Minister’s “New Deal” as not new and not much of a deal. Much of it was re-announcing Conservative manifesto pledges, and the money announced works out at less than £100 per person.

“Swindon Labour have repeatedly said we’ll work with the Conservatives on ensuring a sound economic recovery for our town; and we recently published our wide-ranging recovery plan. But the focus has to be on jobs –we need a laser like focus on guaranteeing that we don’t see large scale unemployment. With Honda closing next year and our high streets in need of support and regeneration we have to put jobs at the centre of our recovery.

“That’s why Labour nationally has been calling for a ‘back to work’ budget and greater support for local government, so that as we face this economic crisis we ensure that we support frontline workers and we don’t see people losing their livelihoods. The focus has to be on jobs, jobs, jobs.”

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