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Levelling-up Missions

Volume 728: debated on Monday 20 February 2023

We are advancing on all fronts, rolling out deeper and broader devolution across England, allocating extra resource to the poorest regions and taking steps to enhance productivity everywhere. In Portsmouth, £20 million has already been received through the levelling-up fund to transform the visitor economy, and nearly £7 million has been allocated from the future high streets fund. Portsmouth is also receiving £48 million as part of the national bus strategy.

The Government promised that their levelling up plans would provide much-needed funding to communities such as my own, but last month Portsmouth South was once again deprived of funding that would have revitalised our city centre. Having rejected a bid twice, can the Minister confirm what action the Government are now taking to make Portsmouth city centre a place that local people can be proud of once again?

I think we can all be proud of Portsmouth city centre, the visitor attractions and the historic communities that the hon. Gentleman is so fortunate to represent. I look forward to working with Gerald Vernon-Jackson and others like him across the party divide in local government in Portsmouth to ensure that the next bid can be successful.

On the subject of the next bid, my right hon. Friend will know that we are very disappointed in Lichfield that after two bids we were not awarded any grant to help with the leisure centre, but does he agree that an application for Burntwood, an ex-mining town in the Lichfield constituency, might be more successful?

My hon. Friend is a brilliant advocate for Lichfield. It may well be that his impassioned advocacy for the community that he has come to call Lich Vegas has meant that bids for the leisure centre might have been seen as de trop, but Burntwood certainly seems to be one of the communities that would be a prime candidate. I took the opportunity when I was in the west midlands recently to visit Willenhall to see how the levelling up fund was helping to transform communities there. My hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) has done an amazing job in making sure that communities that have been overlooked and undervalued for years are at last getting the investment they need. That is levelling up in action.