Johnson pledges billions of pounds to ‘left behind towns’

30 Jul 19

Prime minister Boris Johnson has promised £3.6bn of support to 100 ‘left behind towns’ in England.

The announcement for the Towns Fund over the weekend was followed by the promise of £300m for towns in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The funds for the devolved nations will be given through an expansion of growth deal funding. Growth deals started in 2014 and provide funds to local enterprise partnerships.

Johnson said he was going to start “answering the pleas of some of our left behind towns”, delivering a speech at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum over the weekend Boris.

He said there were “too many places – towns and coastal communities – that don’t feel they are getting benefits from the growth we are seeing else where in the UK economy”.

“So we are going to put proper money into the places that need it,” he added.  

The prime minister explained the funds will be used to improve transport and broadband connectivity as well helping with “vital social and cultural infrastructure” like parks, libraries and art centres.

Alongside the funding Johnson called for greater devolution throughout the UK.

He said: “Taking back control doesn’t just apply to Westminster regaining sovereignty form the EU. It means our cities and counties towns becoming more self-governing.

“It means people taking more responsibility for their own communities. London and Manchester have boomed partly because they have had mayors – some better than others, I would say, but all with the power to speak for their cities, to bang heads together, to get things done.”

James Jamieson, chair of the Local Government Association, said: “The prime minister has rightly acknowledged the need to bring decision-making closer to local people.

“It is vital that communities in all parts of the country have access to the benefits of devolution.”

On Monday, Johnson said of the funding for the devolved nations: “Important projects like government’s growth deals – today backed with £300m new funding – will open up opportunities across our union so people in every corner of the UK can realise their potential.”

On Sunday, The Telegraph reported Johnson had also committed to spending £100m on an advertising campaign for a no-deal Brexit.

The campaign would be the biggest since the Second World War, according to the reports.

Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May was slammed for announcing a Stronger Towns Fund worth £1.6bn.

Read Peter Hetherington’s feature for PF ‘The England that Westminster forgot’.

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