MP and Rotherham Council in row over Dinnington levelling up funding delays

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A Conservative MP in Rotherham has taken a swipe at the borough’s Labour-run council over a bid for levelling-up cash in his constituency.

Alexander Stafford, Rother Valley’s Conservative MP alleges that Rotherham Council “didn’t even want to put in a bid for Dinnington at all,” and accused the authority of “political point-scoring.”

However, the leader of the council, councillor Chris Read, says Mr Stafford “would be well advised to focus his attention” on the government’s levelling-up webpage not working until past the original deadline.

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The portal for councils to submit bids for the second round of £4.8bn government funding was due to launch on May 31 and close to applications on July 6.

Dinnington High StreetDinnington High Street
Dinnington High Street

However, the portal was opened on July 15, according to the Government’s website.

Mr Stafford says that six weeks ago “there was no bid for Dinnington,” and that a delay has given “officers more time to respond to the concerns of local leaders and understand the needs of the community in Dinnington.”

Two of the council's three bids were awarded funding during the first round of levelling-up cash in October 2021.

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Almost £40million was awarded for projects in the Town Centre, Rother Valley Country Park, Gullivers Valley Theme Park, Maltby Academy and Wentworth Woodhouse.

However, a bid focused on housing and employment in Wath and Dinnington was left out of the announcement

In Wath, RMBC hoped to use the funding to demolish and replace the library with a modern building and community hub, as well as new retail and residential units.

In Dinnington, new residential and retail space was planned for the town centre, including an upgraded outdoor market.

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Mr Stafford previously said that Dinnington High Street would be an “ideal candidate” for the fund.

“Between the first-round bid being unsuccessful in November and the spring of this year, RMBC sat on their hands, so it is fascinating to hear representatives of Rotherham Labour talk about the process being held up by central Government,” added Mr Stafford.

“The council didn’t even want to put in a bid for Dinnington at all. That’s frustrating the process. This is just obfuscating the issue and political point-scoring.”

However, Councillor Chris Read, Labour leader of Rotherham Council, said the MP would be “well advised to focus his attention on doing something about” the government’s webpage.

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“The government’s inability to get their webpage to work until after their own deadline should probably tell you how seriously they are really taking ‘levelling up’ and Mr Stafford would be well advised to focus his attention on doing something about that, rather than bleating on about the council,” added Coun Read.

“A reiteration of that bid [for Wath and Dinnington] has been agreed with him and was ready for submission by 30th June. We then had to wait a further fortnight for the website portal to be ready.

“If only this calamity of a government functioned well enough for five minutes we might be able to give our communities at least a fraction of the support they so desperately need.”