Devolved bodies warn about loss of EU funding

After today’s historical vote for the UK to leave the European Union, a number of England’s devolved bodies have raised concerns about the potential loss of funding.

Cllr John Pollard, leader of Cornwall Council, said that, following the result of yesterday’s referendum, the council is seeking confirmation from ministers of reassurances from the Leave campaign that it would not miss out on EU funding.

Cornwall has received an average of £60m funding a year from the EU for the past 10 years. A paper submitted to the council’s audit committee said that its devolution process was on target overall, although the status of some projects was uncertain, and that it had received £15m from the EU to support geothermal energy.

Cllr Pollard said: “Now that we know the UK will be leaving the EU we will be taking urgent steps to ensure that the UK government protects Cornwall’s position in any negotiations. We will be insisting that Cornwall receives investment equal to that provided by the EU programme.”

Similarly, Dave Budd, chair of the Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “Tees Valley has secured hundreds of millions of pounds of European investment funding and we must ensure that this important support is not lost to our businesses.

“We now need to continue to move forward with regional devolution and give Tees Valley the control over its own destiny that will strengthen its ability to compete on equal terms with other regions both at home and abroad.”

However, other combined authority leaders were more positive. Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “It is no secret that this is not the result Greater Manchester leaders had hoped for but Greater Manchester is a vibrant and resilient place.  Our city-region will continue to transform and grow, driven by the talent and determination of our people.

“Throughout the EU exit negotiations people in Greater Manchester will expect the UK government to protect Greater Manchester’s place as an international city-region. Greater Manchester has worked hard to become an international destination for business, trade and investment, and this must be ensured for the future.”

Cllr Bob Sleigh, chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, which officially launched last week, said: “We are taking stock of the referendum vote but remain confident that our recently launched economic plan will deliver positive results for the region over the next decade and beyond.”

In a statement, the Local Government Association, which remained officially neutral during the referendum campaign, said: “There cannot be an assumption that power over these services is simply transferred from Brussels to Westminster. If services are delivered locally, then the power over how to run them should rest locally too. Decades of centralised control over funding and services has distanced our residents from the decisions that affect their everyday lives. With greater control in our areas we can improve services and save money.

“Communities in England have been allocated £5.3bn of EU regeneration funding up to 2020. It is important for the government to guarantee it will protect this vital funding to avoid essential growth-boosting projects stalling and local economies across England being stifled.”

(Image c. Stefan Rousseau from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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