Lichfield’s MP has said securing Government funding for a new leisure centre was “always going to be a long shot”.

Stychbrook Park. Picture: Google Streetview
Stychbrook Park. Picture: Google Streetview

A bid for £5million from the Levelling Up Fund had been put forward by Lichfield District Council to help pay for the new facility at Stychbrook Park.

But the local authority learned this week that it had missed out on a share of the pot.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant said that it was always unlikely the funding would be forthcoming.

Michael Fabricant
Michael Fabricant

“That bid was always going to be a long shot – but it was worth a try.

“In his introduction to the fund’s prospectus, Rishi Sunak says ‘while the fund is open to every local area, it is especially intended to support investment in places where it can make the biggest difference to everyday life, including ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and coastal communities’.

“I think that even the most talented fiction writers would have had a job persuading the Treasury that Lichfield fitted into that category. The city and district are a tier three area – that is, of the type that other, less fortunate areas, aspire to level up to.

“But as the deputy leader of the council, Cllr Iain Eadie, has said, there are other funding streams to tap into.

“I believe the council is determined to provide a leisure centre for Lichfield as good as the one in Burntwood and this has my full support. 

“I will help where I can to support any application for funds by the council with the Government.”

Michael Fabricant MP

“Not the only source of funding”

Lichfield District Council says it remains committed to building the new long-term replacement for Friary Grange Leisure Centre.

Even before missing out on the money from the Levelling Up Fund, the local authority admitted that the funding gap for the project remains a “substantial challenge”.

However, Cllr Eadie said there was still time for the council to find sources for the money.

“We committed to invest in Friary Grange Leisure Centre and to keep it open while we looked to deliver new leisure facilities. We did that and have a seven-year lease on the current centre meaning people will be able to use Friary Grange Leisure Centre for many years to come. 

“We would like to get new facilities open as quickly as possible and will keep looking at how we can do that, alongside how we deliver regeneration in Lichfield district as a whole.

“People have given us their views, so we need to take stock of these, as well as how the use of Friary Grange Leisure Centre has changed since 2019. 

“The Levelling Up Fund was not the only source of funding and we must now deliver new leisure facilities people will use and where there is an identified need such as for swimming, football pitches for youth teams, and for other sports.”

Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council

5 replies on “Securing Government funding for new leisure centre was always a long shot, Lichfield MP says”

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  1. Lichfield is a safe Tory seat. Its MP is a nonentity in both parliamentary and Tory Party, with no influence. Put the two together and you are bottom of any list for funds.

  2. Has Fabricant ever supported the project? This is just him sticking the proverbial two fingers up to his constituents and saying told you so…

  3. Watch out for some back peddling on the promise to keep council run facilities in Lichfield. The clue being in “monitoring how use has changed since 2019”
    WE’VE HAD ENFORCED LOCKDOWNS EFFECTING USE !

    WE cannot let this become an excuse to reduce leisure services

  4. The problem is this Project shall we call it will run into decades. Just like Friarsgate it will run on and on in a bid to chase funding . Of course along this chase , councillors will come and go , a new council leader will be appointed and the project will just drag on and on and never reach delivery . Just like friarsgate 1 & Friarsgate 2 a.k.a Birmingham Road Site.. can people not see the pattern here ?

    The project has already been scaled down form the original proposal and now it’s chasing the money for something a lot less and potentially more affordable.

    I hope the council can secure funding , but if funding is not forthcoming quickly then sadly this will be Friarsgate 3 with a council again chasing vapours and not reality .

    At some stage someone needs to get a grip of the council because from the outside looking in a lot of bad mistakes by officers are happening repeatedly . The council will eventually implode as a result.

    You cannot keep putting lipstick on a pig…

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