Posted: Wed 28th Jun 2023

Opposition councillors question failed funding bids by Newport City Council

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023

Opposition councillors are questioning why Newport City Council’s bids for funding have “failed”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Conservative group leader, Cllr Matthew Evans, estimates the council has missed out on around £80 million worth of funding, due to failed bids. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In June last year, the council bid for £20 million in the second round of levelling-up funding, for a new technology institute – but this was unsuccessful. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

At an overview and management scrutiny committee on Friday June 2, Cllr Evans, who represents Allt-yr-yn, said the council had missed out on two levelling-up bids, the City of Culture bid, and the freeport bid. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Evans has questioned the quality of the council’s bids for funding. He said: “All our neighbours have been successful in at least one application.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Cllr Evans wanted the failed levelling up applications to be brought to the scrutiny committee to discuss how they could be improved. He said the amount of money ‘lost’ is in the public interest. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He added: “It’s not about the UK Government’s funding, it’s about how the council submits their funding and how we can improve our bids. Are we doing plans far enough ahead in our bids, is there any information we can utilise? So it is very much an area where scrutiny can be involved.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But, the council has said it is “not a relevant topic for scrutiny”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Green Party councillor Lauren James said: “I think these are reasonable questions to ask, I too would like to know why these keep failing. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I’m going to stay out of the party politics, there are valid points made on both sides, but at the end of the day it’s our residents that are missing out when these bids fail. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“So if there are changes the council can make to that process, then we should be willing to ask those hard questions and make those changes.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Labour councillor for Rogerstone East, Bev Davies, said it would be “useful” to have feedback on the failed bids, for future reference. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Labour councillor Gavin Horton, who represents Victoria, said: “There are questions I would like to ask as to the process that we followed. We haven’t seemed to have had any of those, do we need to see every part of it through scrutiny? Probably not, but elements of it could be useful for us to cast our eyes over and make some recommendations on.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Despite this, the Labour councillors voted against Cllr Evans’ proposal to bring a report on the failed bids to scrutiny. Labour councillor Miqdad Al-Nuaimi, who abstained from the vote, said: “I’m not against members asking for information.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Prior to the decision, Cllr Evans said: “It’s not a political thing, it’s about how can we as a council achieve our goals.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Chair of the committee, Labour councillor Phil Hourahine responded to this and said it was “highly political”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In the report, Leanne Rowlands, democratic and electoral services manager, said: “The process of bidding is not within the remit of any Newport City Council committee, as this sits with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The grant funding process is very competitive, in round one only 36% of bids were successful, and in round two only 21% were successful. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Recommendations from a committee would not have any impact on the bidding and selection process within DLUHC.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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