Why are we still waiting for Ipswich's Towns Deal cash?
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Projects set to benefit from £25m from the government's Town's Deal are yet to see any money – nearly a year on from being granted.
Some money from the precursor of the deal did help to get work underway on the Old Post Office which has now been occupied by The Botanist restaurant.
But civic and business leaders have been left feeling frustrated at the lack of progress as most of the 11 projects that received government backing last year are still yet to see any money at all from it.
According to a letter penned by Neil O'Brien, junior minister at the department for levelling up, to Tom Hunt civil servants have requested extra details about Ipswich's bid to ensure the bid represents good value for public money.
Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he had found some of the bureaucracy surrounding the bid frustrating – but he was confident the money is still on its way.
He said: "This is a flagship government policy so I am confident it will be delivered. It is taking longer than I would have liked but I have no fears about it."
Mr Hunt said he and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter had already met with government ministers overseeing the scheme and they planned to do so again soon.
It is understood that there has been some frustration in Westminster and Whitehall over the difficulty in finding a permanent chair for the local board set up to administer the fund.
Regeneration expert Jackie Sadek stepped down from the chair of the Ipswich Vision Partnership after four months after a difference of opinion about its role in administering the Town Deal.
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Some of the 11 projects on the list have already gone ahead - but are understood to still be awaiting their contribution from the fund.
A meeting of the Town Deal board which is due to discuss the current situation is due to be held during the next two weeks - which should include the two MPs, councillors and members of business organisations.
The Town Deals was a flagship policy announced by the government before the 2019 election aimed at benefiting towns and cities across the country.
In July last year it was announced 101 communities would benefit from the £3.6bn scheme.
Since then some have received major cash injections but others - like Ipswich - are still waiting for the bulk of the funding.