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Levelling-up and Town Centre Funding: Gillingham and Rainham

Volume 728: debated on Monday 20 February 2023

2. What levelling-up funding and town centre funding has been provided to Gillingham and Rainham constituency. (903614)

I am grateful for the question from my hon. Friend, who is a great champion for his constituency. He will know that his constituency has benefited from nearly £5 million of levelling-up funding since 2020, including £4 million from the Getting Building fund for the redevelopment of Britton Farm and the Connecting Rural Kent and Medway project, and £600,000 from the community renewal fund for the Medway Together project. His constituency will also benefit from £3.3 million that Medway Council was allocated from the UK shared prosperity fund.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but it was for the wider Medway. I think Gillingham received £2 million with regard to the Britton Farm skills hub.

Having worked very closely with Medway Council to put forward an outstanding bid for Gillingham Open Lines, covering an area with high levels of deprivation, I was disappointed to see that application turned down. It raises real concerns about fairness and a merit-based system of government, which the Prime Minister assured me would be the case. Will the Minister visit Gillingham with me and meet stakeholders to look at—

Order. Please, there are a lot of people on the Order Paper who I want to get in. Let us help each other. If somebody does not want to get in, please tell me and then we can help each other.

I will, of course, visit my hon. Friend’s constituency again, after a fantastic visit just a few months ago. I should really reiterate that all the funds in the Department are distributed fairly and objectively, and that different allocation methods are used for each fund to ensure that funding reaches those who most need it, but of course I will meet him to discuss his own project further.

I commiserate with the hon. Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti) and the people of Gillingham and Rainham for feeling let down. The Tory Mayor of the West Midlands went further. He said, after the disappointing results for his area—including Druids Heath in my constituency, one of the most deprived parts of the country—that it was time to end this “begging bowl culture”. Does the Minister agree?

I am sure the hon. Member will be very, very pleased to read the funding simplification plan we will be publishing in due course.