Bid for Community Renewal cash for Anglesey but not Levelling Up fund after second tier snub

Anglesey Council has presented a bid for a slice of the UK Government’s new pot designed to replace former EU funding following Brexit.

Friday saw the authority submit its case for a share of up to £2.7m of the £220m UK Community Renewal Fund.

But officers have also confirmed that no application has been made for the first round of Westminster’s concurrent Levelling Up Fund, after the island was not judged to be a priority area.

There was criticism locally after Môn was ranked by the UK Government as only a second tier priority area when applying for a share of the £4.8bn pot designed to finance infrastructure projects in deprived areas.

17 Welsh authorities were awarded the highest priority status, with Flintshire, Anglesey and the Vale of Glamorgan in priority level two and Gwynedd and Monmouthshire categorised as eligible only for priority level three.

The deadline for the first call for applications to the fund – one of three announced by the Westminster government  – was June 18, with the second likely to take place in the autumn.

A council spokesman added: “As the island is a second priority area for the LUF we have decided to concentrate our initial efforts on coordinating our bid for the Community Renewal Fund”

But as opposed to the LUF, Anglesey is included among 14 Welsh priority areas for the separate  Community Renewal Fund (CRF), designed as a pilot for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace the previous EU aid programme.

The Conservative Government has said the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will match EU expenditure.

Projects included in Ynys Môn’s bid, which aims to invest in skills and job opportunities and support the growth of businesses, include:

Supporting new opportunities in science and technology, led by M-SParc

Working with Môn CF on helping harder to reach young people, from community-based engagement by youth workers into the range of employment preparation services, paid work experience and ultimately a job.

Feasibility study into Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES), focussing on decentralised energy production in order to meet Net Zero commitments.

Providing high quality Level 4 Health and Social Care Education

New business start-up support, business development & growth support post Covid-19, as well as support with IT for businesses needing additional help with their online presence.

Indications if the bid has been successful are expected next month.

During Wednesday’s Audit Committee meeting, council Chief Executive Annwen Morgan said: “The levelling up fund, of course, saw Anglesey awarded second level categorisation and we were not seen as an area of priority.

“That is an area of concern for us as an island and other areas in north Wales, indeed Gwynedd was given third level priority.

“The window has been very tight and my thanks go to the economy team in having to respond and work with communities in such a very short space of time.

“We will see what the results will be of the first phase of the Community Renewal Fund.”

The UK Government’s decision to bypass the Welsh Government and directly allocate the funding itself after inviting applications from local authorities has been attacked by ministers in Cardiff Bay,  being described by Vaughan Gething as “a deliberate assault on Welsh devolution”.

But speaking in the Commons on Tuesday, MP Virginia Crosbie said: “The community renewal fund gave me the opportunity to work directly with the Isle of Anglesey County Council and to build relationships with them.

“The island’s head of regulation and economic development, Christian Branch, and his team submitted a fantastic range of projects last week, which will generate local jobs and boost the economy directly and indirectly.

“Our council will also receive over £140,000 in capacity funding to help it generate excellent quality bids for these funds.”

North Wales Chronicle | Anglesey