MPs hit out at ‘peanuts’ government Stronger Towns Fund

Ashfield’s Labour MP Gloria De Piero has described a new post-Brexit government funding scheme as “peanuts” compared to what has been cut from council budgets.

The government announced its new Stronger Towns Fund which aims to support “struggling” areas across the country, which it is understood will aim to partly replace EU development schemes already in effect.

It is understood that the East Midlands will receive about £110m of the £1.6bn, which will be spread over six years.

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Local authorities can put together bids to receive the funds and can work with communities to finance “necessary improvements” that are viewed as necessary by residents.

Mansfield’s Tory MP Ben Bradley has welcomed the funds, however Gloria De Piero says the amount on offer is “peanuts” in comparison to the amount slashed from council budgets in the last three years alone.

She said: “Since 2015/16, Nottinghamshire County Council’s funding from central Government decreased by £66.6 million, a 34 per cent reduction, while funding to Ashfield District Council decreased by £1.8 million, a 29 per cent reduction.

People's Vote event held at Victoria Hall in Sheffield'Anna Soubry MP speaking at the event

People's Vote event held at Victoria Hall in Sheffield'Anna Soubry MP speaking at the event

“While any cash for our towns is welcome, the amount being offered is peanuts compared to the millions of pounds of funding our local councils have lost from the Government.

“This money will certainly not be enough to reverse the damage that a nearly a decade of Tory austerity has done to communities like ours.”

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Other MPs in the area have echoed Ms De Piero’s view, and some described it as a “Brexit bribe”.

Anna Soubry, Independent MP for Broxtowe, said: “Investment in skills and training is always welcome but we need to go behind this new fund and see it for what it is - a desperate measure to buy votes, and sadly this government has a strong record on that score.

“Now Theresa May is so desperate to get votes for her bad withdrawal agreement she is relying on the same old trick.

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“Voters will not be fooled - especially lose in areas which voted leave and are now demanding a People’s Vote because they know, whichever way you do it, Brexit will harm their futures.

“The better way is to recognise the best deal is the one we have with the European Union.”