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