Posted: Fri 20th Jan 2023

Tory MP slammed by council leader after Denbighshire misses out on £20m

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jan 20th, 2023

Denbighshire Council’s leader has slammed a Tory MP, claiming he has let down the people of Rhyl and north Denbighshire, after the region missed out on £20m of UK Government funding.

The Vale of Clwyd’s bid for the Westminster government’s Levelling-Up Fund was unsuccessful, despite reaching the shortlisting phase.

Consequently, several regeneration projects in Rhyl, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, and Denbigh are now in doubt.

The Levelling-Up Fund was part of the UK Government’s 2019 manifesto aimed at tackling the negative impact of Brexit, helping to regenerate town centres and historic buildings – with the local bid supported by Vale of Clwyd MP James Davies.

In a letter published in December 2021, Dr Davies said he pledged his “full and enthusiastic support” to the bid, citing how the funding could help the area’s economic regeneration.

But the Vale of Clwyd’s bid ultimately failed, throwing numerous regeneration projects into doubt.

This includes regeneration work to Rhyl’s prom and town centre, Prestatyn town centre, improvements to Bodelwyddan Country Park, and the demolition of Denbigh Hospital. A bid for £11.5m for regeneration in Clwyd West was successful.

Denbighshire Council’s leader, Labour’s Jason McLellan, singled Dr Davies out for special criticism.

He said: “I’m really cross with the government. I had one meeting with the MP James Davies, and that was more about the Shared Prosperity Fund, not the Levelling-Up fund.

“I don’t think he engaged with me particularly well, and I had a call late last night from the (Denbighshire) chief exec who had chased up James Davies because we had heard about the successful Clwyd West bid, but other than that, I would have been finding out about it reading in the paper.

“James Davies has let down the people of Rhyl and north Denbighshire.

“I did have meetings with MP David Jones, so I’m not being purely party political, but the Vale of Clwyd has been badly let down.

“James Davies has let the constituency down. He was an advocate for Brexit.

“He was a strong supporter of Boris Johnson’s campaign in 2019 to ‘Get Brexit Done’, and he’s been an advocate of this process all along, and the end result for Rhyl, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, and north Denbighshire is that we do not get a penny.

“The people of Rhyl, Prestatyn, Denbigh, and Rhuddlan are going to be very disappointed.

“My priority is working with the officers to salvage these projects, but as always, decisions do have political implications.

“We are not very far away from a general election, are we? So the people of the Vale of Clwyd can have their say then.”

The leader said the whole bidding process, which relied on MPs’ individual support, was undemocratic and unfair, despite Dr Davies backing the funding bid.

Cllr McLellan said: “I’m disappointed with the whole process. I don’t think it was a democratic process. It bypassed devolution.

“It put the powers and the choice within individual members of parliament.

“What we have in the Vale of Clwyd now is we are faced with a situation where infrastructure projects, regeneration projects, are not going to get the funding. I’m really disappointed.

“I think the UK Government has let the Vale of Clwyd down. It has let the people of Rhyl down, Prestatyn, Rhuddlan, all these areas in north Denbighshire.”

The leader said he was now having emergency meetings with council officers.

A separate bid of over £11m in Clwyd West was successful.

The money will now fund numerous regeneration schemes, including improvements to St Peter’s Square Ruthin, St Peter’s Square clock tower, Ruthin Gaol, west wing and gazebo restoration at Nant Clwyd y Dre, green space improvements at Cae Ddol and catering and toilet facilities at Moel Famau.

There will also be enhanced facilities and flood prevention at the Loggerheads building, a community hub renovation at Bryneglwys School and a new community centre at Gwyddelwern.

Cllr Hugh Evans said: “I’m absolutely over the moon. This has been a long wait for the people of Gwyddelwern and Bryneglwys. I’m really pleased.

“Speaking as the local member, the residents deserve this for their patience, but I’m also pleased that the Levelling-Up Fund has reached small rural communities.”

The UK Government said the investment announced will benefit people across Wales by spreading opportunity and breathing new life into historically overlooked areas.

A total of 11 projects in Wales have been allocated more than £208 million.

Vale of Clwyd MP James Davies was contacted for a comment.

By Richard Evans – Local Democracy Reporter

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