Nothing for Somerset
On 1 October, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the way he wanted to fund regeneration of our towns. Not the Boris Johnson “Town Deal” plans which benefited over 100 towns across the UK. That has resulted in Glastonbury and Bridgwater being awarded over £20m each to regenerate their town centres and environs.
The Sunak grand plan is called the Long Term Plan for Towns. It envisions partnerships, £20m of funding granted over 10 years to 55 towns. The money to be spend by boards incorporating local councils, businesses and local people.
Plans have been announced for 55 towns to get in on the deal.
Of those not one is in Somerset and just one for the whole of the the south west. Torbay is the lucky recipient. Yet Torbay is barely a town. With a population of around 140,000 it is larger than many cities.
The plan may be new, the remedy looks very similar to the Town Deal only less generous. And the malaise it seeks to remedy is just the same. Too many empty shop units, high unemployment and fewer opportunities.
But with just 55 towns benefiting it leaves big holes in the country where towns that need help simply won’t get it. Taunton, Wellington, Shepton Mallet and Frome would all have benefited from a town deal type fund. But once again they have been passed over.
It is almost as if the Conservative government have given up on winning Somerset seats at the next General Election.