Norwich misses out on millions for transport funding due to coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 April 2020
Funding for Norwich’s transport system has been blasted as “loose change” as it was revealed the city would receive just £32m of £1.2bn in government cash, rather than the millions more it had hoped for.
Norwich was one of a dozen cities earmarked for a share of the £1.2bn Transforming Cities fund. It had initially submitted a bid for projects to the tune of £75m, £90m or £162m.
But now the Department for Transport (DfT) have allocated £32m to go towards Norwich, revealed in a letter from the transport secretary Grant Shapps to Conservative MP Chloe Smith.
Mr Shapps said: “The government has decided to take a more expediated approach to allocating funding to Norwich.
“This is in recognition of the demands on local government in responding to Covid-19.”
The funding has been allocated on a per capita basis and is set to go towards bus and cycleway improvements across the city.
Mr Shapps added: “I hope this demonstrates that despite current challenges, the government has a clear investment plan for city regions in England.”
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But the announcement has been criticised as disappointing.
Steve Morphew, Norfolk county council’s Labour group leader, said: “We were encouraged by the government to come up with schemes that were going to make a real difference to the future of the city - £32m is loose change.
“It’s yet another let down. Yet more under funding of critical infrastructure we need in the county. Everyone who accepts that is just accepting selling us short.”
While Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis added: “Any amount of money from the government has to be welcomed but the East of England has historically been underfunded and £32m isn’t going to correct that.”
But Norwich North MP Ms Smith said: “I pressed the buses minister to get the right share out of this fund, and I think this is a reasonable way forward”
She added: “This is good news because it allows us to have investment in our buses which will clean up our air and help people get about.”
While Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways added: “We’ve been working with the DfT to agree funding to make sure we can start carrying out these works at the earliest opportunity.
“Chloe’s support is very much appreciated and we’ll continue to have conversations with central government colleagues to discuss how Norwich’s share of the Transforming Cities Fund could be used to best effect.”