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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Uncertainty for Batley’s £12m Regeneration Plans

A plan to spend £12M to regenerate Batley town centre hangs in the balance after the government revealed that decisions on spending £12Bn of ‘Levelling Up’ money have been postponed.

In August Kirklees Council placed a £12m bid to the Government’s £4.8bn Levelling Up Fund to regenerate Batley’s town centre.

Ministers had promised that the announcement of successful applicants would be made in Autumn, but earlier this week, Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke revealed that decisions have been postponed, with applicants now set to hear “by the end of the year.”

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater has said that she is “extremely concerned” by the news, having backed the scheme to revitalise Batley’s town centre. On Tuesday of this week, the MP said, “The government is in disarray. A week ago the Prime Minister promised there would be no cuts to public spending. Then yesterday Jeremy Hunt, the fourth Chancellor in as many months, made it clear another round of austerity is on the way. My fear is that places like Batley and Spen, that have been left behind so often in the past, could be let down again. Levelling Up was supposed to be the Conservatives’ big idea. So far it’s been just a big con with funds diverted to wealthy areas and those in genuine need left waiting.”

If the bid is successful later this year, the development would see the town modernised, with significant changes to Commercial Street, making it less dominated by car traffic and more easily accessible for cyclists and pedestrians. On top of this, a new events space would be created in front of the town hall. However, with the Levelling Up Secretary’s latest announcement, plans for Batley are left hanging in the balance.

Councillor David Hall, Leader of the Kirklees Conservatives, also commented on the delay, saying, “It is disappointing that the decision has been deferred, but local politicians of all parties continue to lobby for this regeneration funding. The Labour Party has run Kirklees since 2009 and are only just consulting now about investing any council money in the town, so let’s hope the two sets of proposals complement each other.”

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