On Monday this week I wrote a piece about the need for levelling-up to take place in our local area which was for the focus on Sussex where I live. The Brighton Argus newspaper published that piece on Monday because of its interest and it is accessible here. I have now just spotted that Peter Bottomley who I referred to on my piece on Monday raised this call for his area last Thursday. The question he raised was in the the debate called “Levelling-up Fund Round 2” which was a debate that began with Alex Norris, the Labour MP for Nottingham North. Alex raised this question at the beginning of the debate.
To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to make a statement on round 2 of the levelling-up fund.
The Minister who responded was Lucy Frazer and her first few words were
First, Mr Speaker, I apologise; we can always improve on our communications. I believe letters were sent both to MPs and to councils last night and the Secretary of State did make a written statement, but I accept that we can improve on this going forward.
The two of them did discuss for a few minutes and then the next person to take place who as it happens was the only Sussex MP who took part was Peter Bottomley. His call was as follows
The Department did advise the Labour leader of Worthing Borough Council that we had been unsuccessful in our “connected cultural mile” bid. We should not make this issue partisan. Most people understand that all the bids were worth while. Will the Minister arrange for departmental officials to talk with those who put in the bids about how some of these important projects could be funded in other ways, rather than waiting for the third round?
And the response from Lucy Frazer was
My hon. Friend makes a number of important points. Local councils were informed last night that we can improve on that. There were successful and unsuccessful areas, and that is because this levelling-up round was so successful. Some £8 billion-worth of bids were made, so of course there will be unhappy people this morning. However, £2 billion-worth have been successful. On my hon. Friend’s second point, we will be providing feedback because there will be a third round and we want people to understand why they were not successful in this one.
So clearly we can benefit from this response for Worthing and indeed across Sussex and beyond. Let us hope that the other Sussex and other MPs will respond on this theme in the third round period.