Highland councillors ‘disappointed’ as region misses out on Levelling Up Funding

Highland councillors 'disappointed' as region misses out on Levelling Up Funding

Disappointment has been expressed by senior councillors following the announcement that two bids submitted to the Levelling Up Fund by the Highland Council were unsuccessful.

Ten projects in Scotland were yesterday awarded a share of almost £180 million of UK Government funding to create jobs and boost economic growth.

Two stand-alone bids for funding in the Highlands, one for North Coast 500 improvements and another for the regeneration of Portree Harbour and Village, failed to make the list.

Chair of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans, said: “We are very disappointed with the news that the bids we submitted for the redevelopment of Portree Harbour and the improvements to the NC500 route have been unsuccessful. Both projects are important for supporting the local economy and delivering a quality infrastructure and environment that not only benefits the local communities but the wider Highlands as well.

“The UK Government have confirmed that they will provide us with written feedback on the unsuccessful applications. Once we receive this feedback, we will need to consider our position before deciding whether to resubmit the bids for the next round of Levelling Up Funding.”

The North Coast 500 bid concentrated on the following three elements:

  • Achnasheen to Kishorn: NC500 tourist route and Kishorn Port Access.
  • Ullapool to Bettyhill: NC500 tourist route & key North Sutherland vehicle access.
  • North Coast 500 Green Tourism Project

The second stand-alone bid under the Heritage and Culture strand was for Portree Harbour and Village regeneration.

The key elements of the bid included harbour upgrade, new access arrangements, new berthing and mooring options, new quayside facilities and relocation of fuel tanks.

Councillor John Finlayson, Chair of the Isle of Skye and Raasay Committee also expressed his disappointment. He said: “This is very, very disappointing news and looking through all the successful bids it is even more disappointing to see the lack of support for rural authorities like Highland and of course island communities.

“A huge amount of work was done locally on Skye and also at council level to submit what looked like a very strong and very comprehensive bid that would have transformed Portree Harbour and also supported the wider Skye economy and of course, the community groups who were an integral part of putting the bid together are also really disappointed by the news. The council will carefully go through the feedback about the bid and then discussions can take place to look at how the work done to submit the strong bid can still be used to improve things going forward.”

Projects awarded Levelling Up Fund money in Scotland include:

  • Nearly £27m has been guaranteed for a new roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in the Shetland Islands.
  • £20m to help turn Arbuthnot House in Aberdeenshire into a museum and library as well as modernising Macduff Aquarium
  • Refurbishment of the Palace Theatre in Kilmarnock, costing £20m
  • Re-routing of the A78 dual-carriageway to improve Greenock – £20m
  • Regeneration of Riverside Park in Fife (£19.4m) and the Forthside area of Stirling (£19m)
  • £14m Bell Street multi-storey car park redevelopment in Dundee
  • More than £9m for regeneration work in Cumbernauld
  • Nearly £11.3m to free up land at a former coal-fired power station
  • Almost £18m to help Dumfries and Galloway turn redundant spaces and buildings into new cultural and leisure opportunities.

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