With reports from backbench Tory MPs that access to public funding for local communities hinges on whether or not they toe the Downing Street line and ‘side with the Government’ on votes, the Levelling Up agenda is looking increasingly like a Tory Party parlour game. And, as always, it’s ordinary people from hard-up communities who are being dealt the worst hand.
Government is certainly not doing anything to dispel the notion that these funds are vehicles to channel money into constituencies that benefit the Conservatives. When asked by journalists to release the advice of impartial civil servants in respect of the much-criticised Towns Fund, they refused. When asked by us to do the same in respect of the Levelling Up Fund, they obfuscated.
We therefore welcome the Court’s decision to look into this mess quickly.
Put simply, if the Court was to find that the Government’s decision to prioritise places in Ministers’ constituencies like Richmondshire over places like Barnsley was unlawful, it is in the public interest to know that sooner so that the issue can be fixed, and the £4.8bn earmarked for the Levelling Up Fund can reach the communities that need it most.
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