LEISURE CENTRE: Government’s £20m Gipton cash snub
Fearnville Leisure Centre in Gipton, Image: Google Maps
A Leeds MP has said he will campaign for the government to “change its tune” on its decision to reject a £20m bid to help revitalise a leisure centre in east Leeds.
As part of his budget on Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced more than £180m of “levelling up” schemes across England, following bids from individual local authorities.
While Leeds received £20m for road improvements in Conservative-held Pudsey, its bid for money to renovate Fearnville Leisure Centre in Gipton was turned down.
Leeds East MP Richard Burgon (Lab) has now spoken out against the decision, claiming it is “unjust and unfair”, and says he will fight to change the Government’s mind.
He said: “East Leeds is officially, according to statistics, one of the most economically deprived constituencies in the whole of the country – it is exactly the kind of place where the Government can be listening to the applications made to level up.
“This rejection is completely unfair, unjust and plain wrong.
“It shows the Government’s rhetoric doesn’t match the reality on the ground.”
Proposals for Fearnville included 5,000 square metres of new space, including a six-lane pool, small training pool with water confidence area, fitness gym, studios and outdoor fitness areas. The council put in the bid for the funding back in June, and it was hoped final plans for the scheme would be drawn up by the end of this year.
Mr Burgon added plenty of community groups in the area had ideas for projects to take place at a newly-redeveloped facility, and accused the Government of raising people’s hopes.
“We are not going to take this lying down,” he said. “I will be working with local residents who, like me feel totally betrayed by this.
“We will be campaigning to get the Government to change its tune and back this bid. They should think again and approve this bid.
“It’s really needed to make a real difference to an area which has borne the brunt of a decade of austerity. We will not be letting this lie.”
“People who live here deserve the best facilities – a wellbeing centre would have made a huge difference in our area.”
Mr Burgon added that he would be raising the issue in Parliament and would attempt to secure an adjournment debate.
Earlier this week, the Government announced its levelling up fund would provide £187m for 10 projects from the first tranche of allocations from the Fund.
The successful bids included a scheme to improve roads around Pudsey, with junction improvements at Fink Hill, Horsforth roundabout and at Calverley Lane; new pedestrian and cycling facilities along the Ring Road; and new pedestrian and cycle crossings.
The Government also announced £830m in transport funds for West Yorkshire, though the leader of Leeds City Council since claimed some of this is to be money for road maintenance that local authorities would have received anyway.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said this week: “This Government has made it this Budget’s priority to invest in stronger public services, level up opportunity, drive business growth and help working families with the cost of living.
“Around £830m will go to West Yorkshire and £570m to South Yorkshire to expand and enhance local transport networks, including the Sheffield Supertram renewal. People will also benefit from £31 million in investment through the Transforming Cities Fund to improve stations and walking and cycling access in Selby, Skipton and Harrogate.”
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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