Any Sign of the Government Town Fund – for Wednesfield?

When the Government announced that they were going to ‘Level -Up’ Britain, and they called for ideas as to how this could happen. I wrote to the City of Wolverhampton in July making a strong bid for some of the Government ‘Town Funds’ to be earmarked for these projects in Wednesfield. This is what I wrote –

“Wednesfield requires Town Funds – funding to improve its Local Economy, make
better transport links. The way to do that is to look at the Green Agenda. Whilst the city has done some great work around canals and the towpath improvements. It could do more by extending the tow path improvements from Bentley Bridge into the Village centre and out as far as Perry Hall Bridge.

I don’t see why the Town Funds money couldn’t be used for that.

Building on the success of the previous schemes. Giving better cycling links, better pedestrian links, and at the same time using the canal corridor for improved environmental work. This work would strengthen the accessibility for visitors and staff at the New Cross Hospital. It would create new and important links onwards to Walsall MBC. It would help to strengthen the Village High street economy. The Town Funds could be used with matching money that is already earmarked through the ERDF. For use on the Wyrley and Essington Canal. Tourism by Narrowboat is an underused resource. I have provided evidence over the last years that shows every time a Narrow boat stays over in Bentley Bridge on average the Local Economy benefits by £100. This is valuable trade, it’s good for Wednesfield and its good for the City. Boat tourism is a growth. Delivering improvements to the towpath would improve accessibility. Driving up increased interests. I know that 56% of towpaths in Wolverhampton have been improved to a high standard, but there is still plenty that could be done to improve these other sections, accesses, signage and lighting. I have been impressed that through the Covid-19 period we have seen interest and activity on our canals here ‘shoot through the roof’. At a recent CRT meeting they showed a slide with 171% increase in Canalside towpath activity here in this City of Wolverhampton. The situation is ready to be enhanced.”

On the 27th July – I received confirmation that the City Council had accepted the suggestions I had made. This is what the City responded –
“Thank you for your suggested projects for inclusion as part of Wolverhampton’s Towns Fund bid. These suggestions received consideration at our recent workshop sessions with the Towns Fund board members and I am pleased to advise that they have been included as part of Wolverhampton’s ask to government. The team working on the Towns Fund have made contact with the Canal and River Trust to ensure that the scheme proposals are captured fully. The final bid is due for submission on 31 July 2020 and whilst there is no guarantee of funding at this stage, we will keep you posted on progress and feedback to the bid.

Now with a number of Towns being given approvals from the Government there appears to have been a delay of some sort with regards to the funding’s being made available.

Councillor Phil Bateman added It is a growing silence, so this week I again wrote to the City of Wolverhampton asking – “I wonder if you can update me on the progress that is being made in this area?

Sadly, the City of Wolverhampton response was that –“We are still waiting to hear from Government regarding our Towns Fund bid.”

Councillor Phil Bateman further added – “Clearly there is an element of frustration building up as we continue to wait in Wednesfield, for the funding to become available that will lift the very Local Economy here in the Village of Wednesfield.
I would add that there is much importance in getting this injection of funding through. I hope that our Member of Parliament will continue to press for Wednesfield. Time does matter!”

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more