Leeds Opposition councillors are calling for more scrutiny of a decision that would see £2.7m worth of cuts to a scheme aimed at regenerating the city’s district centres.
The Local Centres Programme (LCP) was established as a £5m programme of capital works to support the regeneration of local towns and district centres across Leeds. But an Executive Board decision on 10th February saw councillors agree to cut funding to the programme by £2.7m as part of wider budget savings plans.
Now, opposition councillors, led by Cllr Matthew Robinson (Harewood Ward), have “called in” the decision to the Scrutiny Board (Infrastructure, Investment & Inclusive Growth), which will meet on Monday 1st March to decide whether to ask council chiefs to reconsider theirdecision. The councillors argue that LCP cuts will have a disproportionate impact on some areas such as Pudsey, Horsforth and Guiseley and Rawdon wards, which have seen their allocation from the fund reduced from £150k to £30k.
Councillor Matthew Robinson (Conservative, Harewood Ward) said:
“We have a number of concerns about the cuts to the Local Centres Programme. This is a scheme aimed at boosting our local district centres across the city, and after the year our high streets have had we feel that now couldn’t be a worse time to be cutting funding to these programmes. If anything we should be investing more to help our town centres recover.
“At the council’s budget meeting we put forward an amendment that clearly showed how we could retain funding for the LCP at current levels. Whilst it received strong support from other groups, it was unfortunately voted down.
“But a number of us feel this decision needs more scrutiny. Some wards have clearly lost more funding than others and the impact of those cuts will, in our view, have a disproportionate impact in those areas. There are also questions over how thoroughly some local ward members were consulted on the plans. Overall we think this decision makes the wrong cuts in the wrong places at the wrong time. We’re asking that scrutiny considers the issue and ask decision-makers to think again, ensuring all wards across the city have their funding protected for these vital schemes.”