Standing Up for the town – and I’m bored of being lied to.
The short version:
Lies told in 2019 to win an election in East Devon have been called out by my motion at East Devon District Council. We await a response from Simon Jupp and Robert Jenrick. Just before the motion to write to the pair was passed, Jenrick announced we could access funds from other forthcoming funds. However, those funds have recently been announced, along with priority areas in line to receive help – and East Devon / Exmouth is nowhere among them.
So, to compound a lie, Robert Jenrick has twisted the truth further – continuing to fool those in the constituency who voted Conservative because they were told that the town ‘will’ get money.
EDDC wants to work with government on this – but government needs to be honest and help EDDC! I challenge Simon Jupp to meet with us to talk through our next steps, and advise how we should proceed.
Or maybe, just maybe, Simon is just a pawn in this whole sorry affair too….
The long version:
At the end of February, I bought a motion to East Devon’s full council, asking for them to write to Simon Jupp and Robert Jenrick which, in short, asked where Exmouth’s chance to bid for town centre regeneration funding had gone., and why the promise of such funding had been made three days before a general election. Full details available here. A promise was made that Exmouth would receive up to £150,000 to fund a proper bid for the Future High Street Fund. This was, not to put too fine a point on it, a huge lie, told to win a marginal seat in the general election.
Two weeks ago, doubtless due to the forthcoming motion, Simon Jupp, in a beautifully choreographed yet unconvincing move, asked Robert Jenrick about Exmouth and how much he had stood up for the town. Jenrick’s reply was as follows:
‘I very much enjoyed visiting East Devon during the general election campaign, and I look forward to seeing Exmouth’s application in due course. As I said then, Exmouth is exactly the sort of town that we want to benefit from the town regeneration funds that we have made available. I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that we are driving forward our plans to boost town centre regeneration in every corner of the country. The levelling-up fund and the UK shared prosperity fund will build on the work of the future high streets fund and the towns fund, and the prospectuses for those will be published very soon. I hope East Devon District Council will work with him to grasp this opportunity and put in good proposals that we can consider carefully.’
So, East Devon can bid for money, for Exmouth or whoever they choose, via the Levelling Up Fund or the Shared Prosperity Fund! Hooray! And by golly, do we want to grasp that nettle. Of course we do! We’ll work with anyone for the betterment of our district. Get in touch, all relevant parties, we’re waiting!
When the prospectus for the Levelling up fund was released this week, so too was an accompanying list of ‘Local Authorities by Priority’. East Devon appears in the 3rd priority group. So there are at least 250 authorities ahead of us, and only ‘exceptional’ bids will be considered. With so many ahead of us in the queue, it’s clear this is highly unlikely to come to fruition.
The Community Renewal fund is an interim fund before the Shared Prosperity fund, designed to replace EU infrastructure and regeneration funding, and comes onstream in a couple of years time. We’re not in the running for that – a list of 100 potential recipients has already been published – none of them in East Devon, obviously.
Oh, and don’t bother looking at the much vaunted Town’s Fund.
Now, I understand that there are priority areas throughout the country that are in desperate need of funding, probably more in need than East Devon – so I don’t begrudge anywhere the opportunity to apply for them.
But – the fact remains that promises were made to Exmouth that it ‘will’ receive money to prepare a proper bid for the Future High Streets Fund. And the promise was made 3 days before a general election. Lies and twisting of the truth – ensuring their own rise to the top at any cost, and kick away the ladder when they get there.
The pandemic is no excuse – Conservative councillors told us that we were wrong to press this matter when the pandemic is continuing. But it is for that very reason that we have – all of the funding processes have continued, and money to regenerate the town centre would be great right now. Exmouth continues to suffer and the number of empty shops tells its own story.
In short, I’m bored of being lied to.
I challenge Simon Jupp to meet with EDDC to explain the situation as it currently lies, and what options the district has to access the funding he has often spoken of. If he refuses, I see it as an admission that everything we were told in December 2019 was nothing but a complete deception.
Hold on a minute though……
Maybe, just maybe, Mr Jupp has been led up the garden path too. In July of last year, it seems he was asking where the money had gone too…. Is this all Mr Jenrick’s doing? Is Simon being duped too? Oh my…
July 2020 – Town Funds questions.
The beautiful towns across East Devon boast many independent shops on their high streets, providing the customer service that people just cannot get with a click of a mouse. As we reopen our high streets safely and encourage people to think local first, the Government must press on with plans to regenerate town centres. What plans does my right hon. Friend have for the next phase of the future high streets fund?
My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that we will set out our plans for a competitive round of the towns fund later this year. As I said to him when I visited Exmouth with him last year, that is the kind of town that the fund was designed to serve, and I very much look forward to seeing its submission. In terms of immediate investment, the Heart of the South West local enterprise partnership will receive £35.4 million from the getting building fund for shovel-ready projects across the area, including in Devon. We will announce 160 successful projects from across England at the end of this month.
So, I say again – EDDC wants to work with you, Simon. Speak to us, meet with us, and explain what’s going on. It is the only way I personally will ever change my mind on this.