A WAR of words has broken out after ALL four Bradford regeneration schemes - including a £50 million bid to transform Odsal Stadium - failed to be awarded Government cash designed to boost overlooked communities.

The district's two Conservative MPs have laid the blame at Bradford Council's door, accusing it of submitting "inadequate" bid documents to the latest round of the Levelling Up Fund.

But leading local Labour politicians have hit back, stating that "many months of work" went into producing "high quality bids", and criticising the process of "forcing" local areas to compete against each for funds.

The Odsal Stadium redevelopment bid was the biggest of the four local schemes snubbed by Government.

Bids to re-open Bingley Pool, turn Keighley into a leading centre for advanced robotics and create new wellbeing hubs in some of Bradford’s most deprived areas, were also turned down.

READ MORE: Blow to £50m Odsal plan after Levelling Up Fund snubs Bradford

Philip Davies, Conservaive MP for Shipley, said of the £14.4m bid to re-open Bingley Pool, that his “disappointment turned to anger” when he was told the reason for its failure was the “inadequacy of the bid document” submitted by the Council.

“Each bid went for civil service assessment to see if was sufficiently good to be put to a Minister.  I am afraid the bid for Bingley never even reached the Ministers because it was deemed not good enough for consideration.

"I am absolutely livid,” he said, adding the Council appeared to be “seeking to play politics” over his constituency getting the investment it needs.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An artist's impression of the planned advanced robotics centre in KeighleyAn artist's impression of the planned advanced robotics centre in Keighley (Image: Bradford Council)

Robbie Moore, Conservative MP for Keighley, said of the £20m scheme for a new advanced robotics training centre, he understood the Council’s application “did not meet the quality required or was detailed enough” to meet the standard for selection.

“This is incredibly frustrating as it would seem the town has missed out on additional funds due to a lack of strategic thought and detail included within the bid to government by Bradford Council.”

The failed Bradford Levelling Up Fund schemes in full are:

  • Bradford South - a £50m proposal to transform Odsal Stadium into the largest permanently covered stadium in the country, along with the creation of a new Rugby league skills centre, park and ride car park, sports pitches, hotel and solar farm.
  • Bradford East - a £20m bid is to transform three community centres into wellbeing hubs
  • Keighley - a £20m scheme to unlock Brownfield sites for industrial development, make improvements to Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and create a new advanced robotics training centre
  • Shipley – a £14.4m bid that would involve re-opening Bingley swimming pool, creating a modern leisure facility, and improving the town’s Market Square.

Both MPs are urging the Council to work with the Government ahead of the next funding round.

The fund was proposed as a way of boosting all areas of the country allowing each constituency to bid for funding to carry out a major regeneration project.

A scheme for Bradford West was successful in the first wave – a £20m leisure and wellbeing facility on Squire Lane, work on which is yet to begin.

The proposals for the second round of funding were submitted last summer and developed by Bradford Council and the MPs of each constituency.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe said after the announcement on Wednesday evening that she was “extremely disappointed” at the decision.

On Thursday, she added in response to the MPs’ criticism: “There is no question about the calibre of the bids submitted. Many weeks and months of work went into producing high quality bids drawing upon the expertise of local and national partners and with the full support of our district’s MPs. 

 “Local authorities in West Yorkshire submitted 18 bids, only one was successful, obviously Bradford Council didn’t write all of these.  There are a lot of disappointed Yorkshire council leaders this morning.”

Earlier she had added that the four projects that had missed out were “ready to go” and that they are “now looking at all options to see how they can be progressed without this Government support”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: An artist's impression of the planned Odsal redevelopmentAn artist's impression of the planned Odsal redevelopment (Image: Bradford Council)

Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South, said the decision to overlook Bradford was another example of this Government leaving Bradford and West Yorkshire behind.

“It is hugely disappointing that Bradford's ambitious £50m levelling up bid to regenerate the Osdal area has not been successful. The transformative plan would have brought significant investment and hundreds of jobs into Bradford.

“It is a damning indictment of this Government's lack of vision and support for Bradford when not one of the city's submitted bids in this round was successful.”

A statement from the Bulls about the Odsal bid described the decision as a “setback but categorically not the end of the road”.

“It goes without saying that we are disappointed with the decision, but not entirely surprised. It has certainly not diminished our resolve to provide the club, its supporters, and the city with the appropriate modern facility that they are deserving of.”

While West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin welcomed the boost for buses in West Yorkshire and the cash for Batley, she had a critical view of the process. She said: “It’s incredibly disappointing that no other local community was successful in their bid, despite investing huge amounts of hope, time and energy.

“Forcing local areas to compete against each other for funds in this way cannot be the way we level up.

“I’m incredibly disappointed that Bradford didn’t get the funding it deserves for this regeneration project considering so much hope, time and energy has been invested.

“It was an ambitious masterplan with the potential to transform the area into an icon of sporting and cultural excellence - and in turn improve the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the community and beyond.

“If the government wants to get serious about levelling up, they need to let go of the purse strings and put local leaders in control.”


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