A MAJOR project to upgrade a congested section of Greasbrough’s road network has been thrown into doubt amid Government funding changes.
Rotherham Council was expecting £2.5 million to rework the Whins but the Pinch Point pot of cash has apparently been absorbed into the new Levelling Up Fund.
There is also confusion over the Future High Streets Fund — set to be used for the town centre markets and library development. RMBC was granted a provisional £12 million of its £18 million bid in January but has heard nothing of the money since.
Council leader Cllr Chris Read said: “We are now in the absurd situation whereby the Government is asking Rotherham and other councils to develop bids for funding, with costed projects, faster than they can even sign a cheque they wanted people to believe was already in the post.
“A huge amount of work has gone into developing bids for this much needed investment in the town centre.
“We all want to get on with these improvements as soon as possible. “But three months after they announced the money, we still don’t actually have the money.”
Rotherham’s Future High Streets Fund bid is to allow the central library to move to a redeveloped markets complex, and support Grimm & Co’s relocation to the former Talbot Lane church.
Local government secretary Robert Jenrick wrote to bosses in late January, saying: “I am very keen, as I am sure you are, to conclude this technical update quickly, so that we can confirm funding and ensure payments are made in good time.”
The provisional £12 million was announced on Boxing Day, after which RMBC tweaked its plans and plugged the remaining shortfall with £4 million in its 2021/22 budget, set in February.
But there has been no news since, while the Pinch Point cash — targeting the worst areas for congestion — has gone to the Levelling Up Fund.
There has also been no update on the Towns Fund, into which RMBC has bid for further improvements to the town centre, Templeborough, and Eastwood.
Cllr Read added: “It is absolutely imperative that the Government now makes clear the terms and conditions for the so-called Levelling Up Fund. How will they assess the bids?
“Will other schemes have to be scrapped first? It seems that the government is big on making these announcements, but their inability to deliver the goods is deeply concerning.”
The Whins junction is set to face more traffic as the 2,400-property Bassingthorpe Farm project develops. The planned alterations include extra space for traffic turning right into Greasbrough Lane so the northbound flow of traffic is not impinged.