Councillors Barry Dunning, Jack Davies and Colm McCarthy fail to overturn decision on New Forest District Council Shared Prosperity Fund allocation
AN attempt by Lymington and Pennington councillors to receive a share of £1m district council funding for town centre improvements has failed.
As reported in the A&T, a decision by Derek Tipp, the council’s cabinet member for planning and economy, to distribute more than £210,000 to Totton, New Milton, Fordingbridge, Ringwood, Hythe and Marchwood sparked an outcry.
Barry Dunning, the Conservative member for Lymington and Boldre, joined with Pennington’s Liberal Democrat members Jack Davies and Colm McCarthy in giving formal notice to call in the decision, claiming the area was “once again being overlooked”.
Last year the district council was awarded £1m under the government’s levelling-up agenda, to be spent on projects such as town centre improvement.
The cash came from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), a £2.6bn pot to be distributed to local authorities around the country over three years, and must be invested in initiatives which support communities and places, local businesses, or people and skills.
The issue was discussed at a special Place and Sustainability Overview and Scrutiny Panel, where Cllr Barry Dunning said: “Currently we have 27 empty shops and charity outlets in the High Street.
“The installation of parking meters has done nothing to help the retailers, and Lymington is the only town in the New Forest to have them.
“The town needs investment to encourage customers to return, to support our retailers and the tourists who arrive in the New Forest – many are disappointed at the run-down and parlour state of Lymington High Street.”
He added: “We recognise that Totton should have the bulk of the grant but if we receive a share of the balance we ask for it to be spent improving the public realm around the New Street NFDC toilets, which are in desperate need of refurbishment.”
However, the idea was refuted by Cllr Tipp, who said: ”We’ve looked at the spread carefully, the reasoning for it is clear and I would ask members to support this decision so we can move forward and spend this money.”
A majority vote by members means the decision remains unchanged.