Fury as Midhurst left out of £13.7million levelling up grant plan

Plans to spend millions on three projects in Chichester have sparked fury in Midhurst as the district council is accused of being ‘Chichester centric’.

A £13.7 million bid to help revitalise Chichester has been submitted to the government by Chichester District Council focusing on three areas in the city including Northgate; Priory Park; and the proposed Cathedral Square

The application has been submitted under the government’s £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, which seeks to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK.

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£13.7million sought by Chichester District Council to 'level up' the city
Former mayor and Midhurst firefighter, Mark Purves

Former mayor and Midhurst firefighter Mark Purves said the announcement ‘has made my blood boil’.

Speaking to the Observer, Mr Purves said: "I think it just demonstrates how out of touch the district council are with the district that they serve and how Chichester centric they continue to be in everything they do.

"I would love to see the rationale. There has been no thought going into it at all. It’s Chichester, Chichester, Chichester.”

A Chichester District Council spokesperson said: “We recently became eligible to apply for the Levelling Up Fund and so wanted to do everything we could to try and secure funding through this route. There was a very small window of time in which we could submit a bid. We were allowed to submit three linked projects.

"Working with consultants we assessed eight projects, including projects linked to the Midhurst Vision, against the Levelling Up Fund criteria. Unfortunately, the projects within the Midhurst Vision did not meet the benefit cost ratio set by government and so they were discounted.

“The council has been allocated £1 million over three years from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to invest in projects that support communities and places; local businesses; and people and skills. The release of this money is subject to the council submitting an investment plan to the government for approval.

"We will know in October if our plan has been approved. Our intention is that the majority of this money will be allocated to support vision and community projects outside of the city or for district wide projects. We are planning to release further information on the investment plan shortly and we will be writing to our partners over the summer providing further information on how the fund can be accessed.”