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Row heightens between MP and council over Keighley Levelling Up bid

Keighley MP Robbie Moore has accused Bradford Council of putting in a sub-standard bid for money for the town from the government's Levelling Up fund - and says a lack of detail meant it was unsuccessful.

On Wednesday night it was revealed that the Keighley bid - plus three others for constituency areas in the Bradford district - had all missed out on a share of cash.

The bid for Keighley included a project to bring the Worth Valley Railway into use for commuter services, unlock brownfield sites in the town for industrial development and create a new advanced robotics training centre.

Mr Moore says he has been told by a Minister in the government department assessing the bids that Bradford Council's application to access funds for projects in Keighley 'did not meet the quality required or was detailed enough to meet the standard for a successful bid selection'.

On Thursday, Mr Moore took the unusual step of releasing emails between himself and executives at Bradford Council from last summer, highlighting that he had tried to get a draft copy of the bid before it was submitted. You can see the emails below.

Rombalds Radio understands that the MP was only sent the full details of the application on the day that it was sent in to central government.

Robbie Moore said: "I would not normally share this type of correspondence, but I do believe that in the interests of transparency, it is only right that you see the staggering scale of incompetence at Bradford Council.

"The news is incredibly frustrating as it would seem the town has missed out on additional funds due to a lack of strategic thought and detail included within the bid to government by Bradford Council.

"I know that a lot of businesses worked hard to put applications together, but it would seem they have been let down by Bradford Council’s lack of nouse and the quality of their bid to Government.

"I have therefore requested Government officials write to Bradford Council urgently outlining how they can significantly improve the application for a resubmission in the next round, so that Keighley doesn’t miss out on additional monies due to the Council's incompetence.

"It is imperative Bradford Council work closely with the government, and local representatives and the civil service team over coming months to ensure they deliver a strong and well-crafted bid that will truly benefit the people of Keighley. Our town deserves it."

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe told the Telegraph and Argus: “There is no question about the calibre of the bids submitted. Many weeks and months of work went into producing high quality bids drawing upon the expertise of local and national partners and with the full support of our district’s MPs. 

"Local authorities in West Yorkshire submitted 18 bids, only one was successful, obviously Bradford Council didn’t write all of these. There are a lot of disappointed Yorkshire council leaders this morning.”

Robbie Moore in response says that the email correspondence he had with the council a week or so before the application was submitted to government shows that he had serious concerns about the 'calibre' of the bid and that the bid was formulated in the final stages of the application, so wasn't the result of many months of work.

He told Rombalds Radio: "My frustration relates to the fact that had better preparation been done by the Council, and they did not leave it to the last minute, we could have been in a much better situation."

John Grogan, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Keighley, said: "It seems strange the Prime Minister’s affluent constituency is receiving funding and Keighley is getting nothing. Speak to any manufacturing business in Keighley and they say what is stopping them expanding in the town is lack of industrial land and a shortage of skilled labour. The project proposed at the Stockbridge depot would have provided a solution to both problems."

Watch a video below of Robbie Moore MP raising the issue in the House of Commons on Thursday...

 

Here are the emails released by Robbie Moore between himself and executives at Bradford Council in June/July 2022:

 

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