New post-Brexit funds of £1.6bn have been earmarked by the government to support “struggling” town centres across the country - including £110m for the East Midlands.
The new Stronger Towns Fund, which will replace EU regional development funds post-Brexit, will be targeted at places that have not shared in the proceeds of growth in the same way as more “prosperous” parts of the country, and will be spread over six years.
The fund will be used to create new jobs, help train local people and boost economic activity – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.
It is understood that £322m has been set aside for communities in the Midlands, with the East Midlands receiving about £110m.
Communities will be able to draw up job-boosting plans for their town, with the support and advice of their local enterprise partnerships.
MORE ON BREXIT: Nigel Farage to bring ‘Brexit Betrayal’ march through Mansfield, Ashfield and Broxtowe
Mansfield’s MP Ben Bradley welcomed the funds and said it is “great news”.
He said: “It is great to hear today that our lobbying for industrial areas in the Midlands and the North is paying off, as the Prime Minister has announced funding to support jobs and growth in communities like Mansfield and Warsop.
“More than £1bn will be pre-allocated across the regions, and a further £600m available for areas to bid for major job-creating projects.
“About £110m will be spend on communities in the East Midlands and I am pleased that the Government is supporting communities and helping to boost growth locally.”
Prime Minister Theresa May announced the funding, which she says is to help support areas in the Midlands and the north which have been “neglected” by prosperity that has been “unfairly spread” in the past.
She said: “For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread. Our economy has worked well for some places but we want it to work for all communities.
“Communities across the country voted for Brexit as an expression of their desire to see change – that must be a change for the better, with more opportunity and greater control.
“These towns have a glorious heritage, huge potential and, with the right help, a bright future ahead of them.”
MORE ON BREXIT: HMRC urges business owners to make sure they are ready for no deal
John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, supports the scheme and told the PM last month to “show us the money” with “transformative investment” in areas that voted to leave.
The MP, who backed Mrs May’s Brexit deal at the first vote, initially denied it amounted to “transactional politics”.
However other Labour MPs have described the funds as “Brexit bribes” and have suggested that the government is trying to “win support” of MPs in the Midlands and north ahead of next week’s key Brexit votes.
David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, also suggested in a tweet that the UK received £1.56bn per year from EU membership for a similar scheme, while the government’s funding equates to £1.6bn over six years, calling it a “pathetic comparison”.
More to follow.