ROTHERHAM’S absence from the list of nine towns in the region to share £199 million of the Government’s Towns Fund does not mean the end of our cash hopes.
The borough was one of 101 areas asked to produce an investment plan for economic growth in order to access up to £25m of government funding.
Projects supporting the town centre masterplan —\!q and mini-masterplans for Eastwood and Templeborough — have been drawn up.
But Rotherham was not among the list of nine places in the Yorkshire and Humber region — out of a list of 45 across the country — named as the Budget was announced yesterday.
A council spokesperson said those invited to bid were split into four cohorts, with Rotherham in the latter two and a funding decision not expected until April at least.
The RMBC bid includes better connectivity into town along pleasant, tidy, open and accessible areas, as well as new homes and better broadband connectivity.
MP Sarah Champion said it would make a mockery of the Government’s “levelling up” agenda if Rotherham was not given funding.
“If you just look at any indicator, Rotherham is one of the most economically deprived areas in the country,” she said.
Asked what should be top of the list if Rotherham did finally net millions to spend on improving the town centre, the MP said: “The thing I’m most impressed about in Rotherham is those little independent shops that have started, mainly around the High Street.
“If there could continue to be support for small independent businesses and then a marketing budget around it, I just really think we could quickly build quite a unique offer.
“You can get, as we've proved in this last year, almost anything online but you can't get the things those independent shops are selling online.”
Goldthorpe was named among the successful towns in this round of funding and will share £199 million coming to Yorkshire and the Humber.
The £23.1 million windfall will “help to level up the town by catalysing business investment attracted by the town's infrastructure assets”, the Treasury said.
Proposals so far suggested for improving Goldthorpe include relocating the run-down and market to a more central spot and creating a new town square.
Others successful in the region were Wakefield, Whitby, Scarborough, Grimsby, Castleford, Scunthorpe, Morley and Stocksbridge.
The Towns Fund has been hampered by delays because of the pandemic — and cash has been diverted to other projects, including £175 million for freeports.
This region’s bid for a freeport — centred around Doncaster Airport — was unsuccessful in this week’s announcement.