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  • Stronger Towns Fund slammed by local MP as a ‘pathetic bung’

    Henry James

    BILL Esterson MP has branded a £1.6billion Government fund to boost struggling regions “a pathetic bung.”

    The Sefton Central MP said the cash - which will see £281million come to the North West over the next seven years - was a drop in the ocean compared to local government cuts.

    The North West will receive on average £40m a year from the Stronger Towns Fund, which will be allocated using a “needs-based” formula designed to boost growth in “left-behind” towns.

    There will be a further £600m that local authorities can bid for.

    The MP highlighted that Sefton has seen £230m cut from its annual budget since 2010.

    The MP said: “There are 39 local authorities across the North West, meaning the Stronger Towns Fund will deliver on average less than £1m per local authority per year where there have seen billions of pounds of cumulative cuts since 2010.”

    Mr Esterson said: “It is a pathetic bung which goes nowhere near replacing what local authorities have lost over the past nine years. What the North West needs is sustained investment not crumbs off the table in what amounts to little more than a Brexit bribe.”

    The Government has been criticised for directing the cash at Leave-voting Labour areas, with some accusing the Prime Minister of trying to bribe Labour MPs to vote for her Brexit Withdrawal Deal.

    Mr Esterson said: “This £281m doesn't come close to covering the cuts, which amount to billions of pounds across the North West.

    “Poorer areas have been hardest hit by Government cuts and what we need is a fair local government funding settlement not a fraction of what is actually needed. It is cynical politics of the worst kind.

    “The PM does not have a clue about the scale of the challenges we face in the North.”

    Announcing the Stronger Towns Fund, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “For too long in our country prosperity has been unfairly spread. Our economy has worked well for some places but we want it to work for all communities.”

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