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Norfolk councillor dismisses infrastructure cash 'crumbs'

A Norfolk councillor has hit out at government funding news which will see the county get a share of just over £30m as “crumbs”.

A total of £31.2m government cash is set to pay for so-called “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects across both Norfolk and Suffolk.

But critics have slammed the measure as “inadequate” and urged the government to do more to boost the region’s growth.

Steve Morphew. (37786906)
Steve Morphew. (37786906)

The Eastern region will receive £111.5m, and the money will go to local enterprise partnerships, with the schemes set to benefit announced in the coming weeks.

Doug Field, chairman of New Anglia LEP, welcomed the cash injection as “great news for our region”.

And he added that the money “shows the government’s commitment to our area”.

But Steve Morphew, the county council Labour group leader, said the government should do more.

“It’s time to stop being overly grateful for inadequate funds and pretending crumbs are the full loaf,” he said.

“Any investment is welcome but it works out around £20 a head for Norfolk residents. It certainly won’t do much to help recovery.

“Yet every day Norfolk wind generates the power that increasingly runs the country.

“Put another zero on the £15m share Norfolk will get.

“We earn it, we deserve it and £150m really could make a positive difference for us all.”

The announcement comes after the prime minister announced what he called a “new deal for Britain”, with the government set to plough £900m into projects to help boost jobs and infrastructure.

But Mr Field said the money would “allow us to work with partners to bring forward infrastructure projects which will accelerate local growth and help us achieve the goals in the new recovery restart plan and economic strategy.”

And announcing the funding, Boris Johnson said the government was “wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.”

The New Anglia LEP submitted a list of proposed projects to the government in June.

And, in order to be in line with government criteria, projects had to be deliverable within 18 months and link with regional and national recovery aims, as well as offering clear economic outputs, jobs, housing or apprenticeships.

Andrew Proctor, chairman of the Norfolk Leaders Group, said: “The last few months have been very hard on local businesses and the LEP’s Economic Restart & Rebuild Plan, as the umbrella plan for the County Council and District Councils in Norfolk, is the start of decisive action to get our economy back on its feet.

“This new funding, allocated to the New Anglia LEP by the government, allows this plan to be taken forward. This is now all about the public and private sectors working together so we can restart and renew our county’s economy and support all our businesses that are its backbone.”

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