Durham, Newcastle and Hartlepool submit bids to Levelling Up Fund

Durham , Newcastle and Hartlepool councillors have submitted bids for cash from the government’s £4bn Levelling Up Fund (LUF).

Durham’s bid for £20m, if approved, will go towards the £30.91m total cost of reopening Whorlton Bridge, re-routing the A68 to by-pass Toft Hill and enhancing the Locomotion heritage attraction at Shildon, all in the Bishop Auckland constituency.

Newcastle meanwhile has submitted an £18m bid for funding towards the £22m cost of a leisure complex at West Denton, and The Journal reports that the City Council has also bid for £20m for improvements to the Grainger Market and Old Eldon Square and for £17m, most of which would be used to to build a facility at Walker to clean up the Tyne by collecting sediment that could otherwise eventually prevent large ships sailing up the river.

Newcastle, five other councils, 11 MPs, the North of Tyne Mayor and the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner are also bidding for £18.45m to repaint and carry out maintenance work on the Tyne Bridge, The Journal reports.

TeessideLive reports that Hartlepool is bidding for £20m. for carbon-saving measures at the new Highlight leisure centre, improvements to the National Museum of the Royal Navy and a new cycling and pedestrian bridge linking the waterfront, town centre and railway station.

The LUF was announced in the Budget in March, and councils throughout England are being invited to submit one bid for up to £20m for each constituency in their area. Regions such as the North East (excluding Tees Valley) can also submit one joint transport bid for up to £50m.

County Durham has been identified as one of the areas of greatest need of levelling up in the UK and has been classified as a Tier 1 area by the government.

A total of £600m is available in this first round of bidding and successful bids will be announced in the autumn. The remaining £3.4bn will follow in two further rounds.

Under LUF rules, schemes must contribute to transport, regeneration and town centres, or cultural investment. All successful projects are expected to be completed by March 31, 2024, or, exceptionally, in 202/25.

Durham cabinet also agreed to submit bids for schemes in all five remaining constituencies in the county in rounds 2 and 3, making full use of the total of £120m potentially available. The deadline for bidding for round 1 expires on June 18.

You can read the Durham cabinet report here.