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Government's rejection of Haverhill High Street funding bid 'very disappointing'

Community leaders have expressed their disappointment and surprise after Haverhill’s bid to receive a share of the Government’s £675 million Future High Street funding failed to get to the next stage.

Haverhill was put forward by West Suffolk Council in March as its choice to receive a grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government pot of money.

However, the list of 51 places that have been put forward to the next stage of the application process does not include Haverhill – or any town in Suffolk.

Cllr John Burns, who sits on the town and district councils and is the current mayor of Haverhill, said: “We are all very disappointed in Haverhill that the government has not seen fit to recognise the work that has already been achieved by Haverhill Town and West Suffolk Councils as well as the One Haverhill Partnership.

Haverhill High Street. Picture by Mecha Morton
Haverhill High Street. Picture by Mecha Morton

“Our town centre masterplan is an ideal framework for such funding and we all worked hard to produce a very good brief in a somewhat ridiculously short timescale to promote our case. We don’t really understand how we have not been considered for the next stage nor the criteria that those selected managed to achieve that we did not.

“We will continue to fight hard for this town with or without government help.”

John Mayhew, chairman of ONE Haverhill Partnership, said: “We are, of course, disappointed that Haverhill was not chosen in the shortlist for the Future High Streets Fund after West Suffolk Council put forward a very strong case. But we also take great heart that Haverhill was chosen by West Suffolk Council in the first instance.

“No effort was spared in putting forward a bid that showed great partnership-working and had support that gained huge momentum.

“We will continue to work closely with partners to look at other opportunities for Haverhill.”

Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: “While this is a disappointment, especially because of the hard work and public support for the bid that we submitted, I am clear that the process has not been wasted.

“It has further strengthened the bonds and willingness we all have to bring improvements to Haverhill as well as helping outline further some of
those ambitions,” said Cllr Griffiths.

“Even in the period following the bid we have been working hard with partners on various schemes and, of course, carrying on lobbying Government for funding and the recognition of the needs of the town as well as the part it plays in the UK economy.

“What impressed me through the whole of the process was the way all parties, the community and businesses, came together and the passion shown for the town.

“Something I know we will continue to build on, not just for Haverhill but for all of our West Suffolk communities.”

The successful bids that have gone through to the next stage will now receive up to £150,000 of new funding to work up detailed project proposals, based on their initial plans.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work closely with them, focusing on those places that have ‘shovel ready’ projects where there might be opportunities to accelerate these.

Among the bids that have progressed are Great Yarmouth, March, King’s Lynn, Sheffield, Nottingham, Sunderland, Tottenham, Swindon, Northampton, Rotherham. Poole, Fleetwood, Nelson and Taunton.

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