Edinburgh misses out on Levelling Up cash: SNP says fund is 'reverse Robin Hood adventure'

Edinburgh’s bid for cash snubbed by UK Government
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The SNP has branded the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund a “reverse Robin Hood adventure” after Edinburgh missed out on any cash while a new analysis claimed Tory constituencies benefited disproportionately.

A total of ten projects in Scotland received money in the second round of awards from the fund, including a new ferry for Fair Isle, restoration of Kilmarnock’s historic Palace Theatre, and regeneration in Stirling. Edinburgh had sought support for revitalisation of Inch Park and a city-wide renewal of cultural infrastructure, but received nothing at all.

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The Inch Park project would have seen restoration of Inch House to improve its function as a community centre, redevelopment of the park’s plant nursery to include retail and café space and the construction of a new indoor gym hall for Inch Park Community Sports Club. The cultural package would have funded work on the King’s Theatre, Leith Theatre, the Queen’s Hall and the Usher Hall, as well as the new Macmillan community arts hub for Pennywell and Muirhouse, and an extension to the WHALE Arts building in Wester Hailes.

The revitalisation of Inch Park was one of the projects which missed out on funding.  Picture: Greg MacveanThe revitalisation of Inch Park was one of the projects which missed out on funding.  Picture: Greg Macvean
The revitalisation of Inch Park was one of the projects which missed out on funding. Picture: Greg Macvean

The distribution of the new £2.1 billion funding throughout the UK sparked complaints from across the political spectrum as many disadvantaged areas appeared to lose out while richer areas, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's own Richmond seat in North Yorkshire, benefited.

Edinburgh SNP finance spokesperson Lesley Macinnes said: “It’s telling that the Tories found money for Rishi Sunak’s wealthy constituency but they couldn’t find a single penny for the entire city of Edinburgh. This fund is increasingly looking like a reverse Robin Hood adventure, where the UK Government takes from communities in need and redirects precious funds to their favoured areas. It’s clear councils are losing out and communities most in need are being sidelined. It’s about time the Tories stopped pretending this wasn’t our money to begin with.”

And Simita Kumar, SNP councillor for Southside/Newington, which covers Inch Park, said: “It’s very disappointing that the Inch House project hasn’t been successful. This was a strong bid which would have made a real difference for our area. There are progressively difficult questions for the UK Government to answer about how they decide which projects are successful – particularly given Edinburgh received nothing.”

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An analysis by The Guardian today claimed Tory constituencies across the UK had been awarded significantly more money per person from the Levelling Up Fund than other areas with similar levels of deprivation. It calculated that voters in Tory seats got £19.47 more per head than those in similarly deprived non-Tory seats in the latest funding round. The Prime Minister defended the fund’s allocation of support, insisting northern England was receiving more per person than the south. He said: "If you look at the overall funding in the levelling up funds that we've done, about two-thirds of all that funding has gone to the most deprived part of our country."

In the first round of awards from the Levelling Up Fund in October 2021, Edinburgh received £16.5m for restoration of the Granton gasholder as part of the area’s waterfront regeneration project.