Three towns in the Greater Manchester region are among the several North West locations set to receive a chunk of the new £1 billion Towns Fund.
The latest £1 billion pledge to the Towns Fund was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak during the unveiling of the 2021 Budget to the House of Commons earlier this week, with the government saying the fund aims to “support towns [in England] to build a prosperous future”, help to “level up”, and aid in recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A total of 45 areas of England were announced by the Chancellor as funding recipients.
Of the 45 areas announced, the North West dominates the list, with nine towns in the region set to receive millions from a £211 million allocation for regeneration projects.
The three Greater Manchester towns receiving a chunk of funding are Bolton (£22.9 million), Cheadle (£13.9 million), and Rochdale (£23.6 million), and they are joined by the rest of the nine North West areas rounding out the list, which are Preston, Workington, Carlisle, Leyland, Stavely, and the most significant recipient on the list, Southport.
Plans for the £22.9 million funding allocation in Bolton have already been released.
In addition to the £1 million accelerated funding already secured to regenerate the borough, the latest investment will see the Cheadle Square area of Bolton town centre – which includes Bolton Market, Bolton Central Library, and Aquarium – now set for major improvements.
This includes an improvement to Bolton Market, which will involve refurbishing and upgrading the internal halls, and improving all entrances to the building, as well as a redevelopment of the Wellsprings building to create an innovation hub for growing and start-up businesses in the creative and digital sector.
A public realm project will create a greener town centre, focussing on improved footpaths and improved connections between key institutions, new pocket parks and new public spaces, and finally, a redevelopment of Bolton Central Library, Museum and Archive will expand the Aquarium, modernise the libraries and introduce flexible workspaces for local businesses and community groups.
Speaking on the funding allocation, Belinda Beaver – Chair of Bolton’s Town Deal Board, and Director at Agitare Business Consultancy – said: “I am overjoyed that Bolton’s Town Fund has been successful and the money we receive will make a great difference to our town centre.
“The success is a testimony to Bolton’s fantastic collaborative working with partners to provide upgraded facilities to businesses, residents and visitors alike.”
Cllr David Greenhalgh – Leader of Bolton Council – said: “This money will help us realise our vision and enable us to deliver transformative projects, which are a key part of our ambitious plans. These town fund projects result from extensive collaboration with residents, MPs and private and public sector partners and will reinforce our collective ambition, vision and commitment to regenerating Bolton’s town centre.”
The next stage of the process will now involve Bolton Council agreeing Heads of Terms with the government and developing a full business case for each of the projects.
However the Towns Fund allocations in our region has been met with some strong local criticism.
Jonathon Reynolds – the Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary – said there was “just no logic to where that money goes other than through a political ends”, and used the example of Greater Manchester to state that the decisions for where funds would go as being “inexplicable”.
He said: “A government serious about levelling up would look at things like council funding. It would look at the funding of the health service to address health inequalities in post-industrial areas. Instead, what we seem to get are these pots from the chancellor dependent on giving money to backbench Conservative MPs, and I find that so frustrating and a misuse of public money.”
A number of other Labour MPs for Greater Manchester constituencies have also taken to social media to express criticism.
When challenged on the allocations at a Downing Street news briefing, Mr Sunak said that “if you looked at all the things” the government was doing it was “benefitting people in every corner of the country”.
You can find more information about the Towns Fund allocations here.
Manchester United reject offers for Mason Greenwood as rep says he ‘should be allowed to move forward with his young life’
Manchester United have reportedly rejected a number of offers for Mason Greenwood as the club continues their internal investigation into his behaviour.
The club have reportedly received a number of offers for the young forward from Turkish teams in recent weeks and months while Greenwood has been suspended from playing or training. He has yet to return to the sport after charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault occasioning actual bodily harm were dropped.
The charges handed down in January 2022 were ultimately dropped last month when key witnesses withdrew, more than a year on from the incident that was widely circulated on social media.
Now, following a behind-the-scenes feature by The Athletic and ‘new material’ leading the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the case for the foreseeable, it seems United are now the only party still investigating Greenwood, with his own team and figures around the club pushing for a resolution.
Speaking to Laurie Whitwell as part of the piece, one of Greenwood’s representatives argued that there is “no real substance” to the allegations, them “a mix of old news, speculation, half-truths and completely untrue claims.”
He went on to say, “Mason is 21, he has been cleared and should be allowed the opportunity to rebuild and move forward with his young life.”
Another source is also said to have told the outlet that the youngster has been fundamentally changed by the experience, insisting that he “would run through a brick wall” to be back playing at United.
As for the club’s stance, it remains to be seen what their final decision on his future will be, but it was reported earlier this month that a potential return is still “firmly under consideration” and his number 11 shirt has not yet been vacated as many would have expected if he was set to move on.
On the other hand, the article goes on to detail questions surrounding Greenwood’s conduct and general attitude during his relatively short time as a senior player too, the suggestion being that he was slacking in training because “he knew he was a good player”.
His attendance at Carrington is said to have been raised as an issue on more than one occasion and then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær often covered for training sessions and games he missed after failing to turn up to the team hotel for “unexplained absences”.
Another source who watched him play aged just 16 also went on to reveal that Bradford-born academy product “wasn’t shy about telling someone they were s***”, apparently even calling out Cristiano Ronaldo as “dead [finished]” when he was still at Real Madrid.
Greenwood played over 100 senior games for United and was widely considered one of the brightest young prospects in England, let alone the club, but the career trajectory he looked to be on is widely different from the problematic position he finds himself in now, regardless of any offers from abroad.
So, after setting up a fake consultancy firm based out of Seoul, South Korea called Hanseong Consulting and inviting along a number of MPs, many of whom either previously held or currently sit in senior party positions, they began holding Zoom interviews with the various candidates to see if they’d be interested.
More importantly, however, the crucial question was “how much would they want to be paid?”. The likes of former Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng had very simple but nevertheless astounding answers:
As you can see in the trailer for the full mini-documentary, both the former health secretary and the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer quoted their day rate as up to £10,000.
In fact, Hancock broke down his figures even further, insisting that an hourly rate would equate to “around £1,500”. Wonder how that sizes up to the fee he was paid to be on I’m A Celeb? (yes, that wasn’t a fever dream, it really happened). We’ll let you do the nauseating maths on that one.
Other Tories who were duped into putting themselves forward for the made-up job included Gavin Williamson, Stephen Hammond and the Chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee (a private members group known to influencers backbenchers), Sir Graham Brady.
Well, they were the only ‘candidates’ to have issued statements after the fact trying to play down the story, anyway. The campaigners approached 20 different MPs under the guise of the fabricated company, with other individuals dropping out in more preliminary stages.
After having asked for £60k a year on top of his £48k annual salary as the representative for Manc constituency Altrincham and Sale West, this would have been Brady’s fourth job besides his two marketing and comms advisory roles, but assured he would always act “within the Code of Conduct”.
Hammond had more to say on the matter, responding that “scamming is an unpleasant activity undertaken with malicious intent”, while Hancock’s office responded by labelling it a “failed attempt at entrapment” and insisted he is free to look at “exploratory options” as he is set to stand down as an MP.
Led By Donkeys are now in the process of gradually releasing each one of the fake job interviews in full on their YouTube channel.