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‘Levelling-up’ funds awarded to local councils of Tory ministers

levelling-up”

‘Levelling-up’ funds awarded to local councils of Tory ministers

Two councils in England represented by Tory ministers have received money under the government’s flagship “levelling-up” fund despite being among the least deprived fifth of local authorities nationwide.

The health secretary Sajid Javid’s constituency of Bromsgrove got £14.5m in the first announced tranche of cash under the scheme.

Central Bedfordshire, which received £26.7m in levelling-up funding for transport improvements and a community wellbeing hub, is partly represented by Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary.

Lewes council, which is represented by the Conservative MP Maria Caulfield, received the ninth-largest per capita award despite being among the least deprived 40% of local authorities. Lewes received funding for local seafood industries and will also benefit from an East Sussex bid for a new road bridge in Seaford.

A number of areas of high deprivation received large awards, including Burnley and Stoke-on-Trent, which got £19.9m and £56m respectively.

Alex Cunningham, the Labour MP for Stockton North, which includes an area that missed out on funding, said: “The Tories like to talk a good game on levelling up, but this is yet more proof that it is an empty slogan and that pork barrel politics is the name of the game.

“I think it’s high time that the prime minister, chancellor and levelling-up secretary come clean and explain to the people of Billingham, and other areas that have significant levels of deprivation but missed out on much needed funding, why they feel places like Yarm and Eaglescliffe in the Tees Valley, and Bromsgrove and Central Bedfordshire further afield, are more deserving of the levelling-up cash than they are.”

The government’s levelling-up fund is designed to combat regional inequality by investing in infrastructure that “brings pride to a local area”, according to the scheme’s prospectus.

Just under half of the 65 English local authorities that will benefit from funding announced in last week’s budget are among the country’s most deprived fifth. However, Bromsgrove, Central Bedfordshire and the Isles of Scilly – which is to receive funding for a ferry service – are among the country’s least deprived.

Although more Labour councils than Conservative-controlled ones received funding in this first tranche, Tory councils did better per capita at £93 per head of population compared with £65 per head for Labour councils. Councils with no overall control received £102 per head while the two Liberal Democrat areas announced thus far, Eastbourne and Hinckley and Bosworth, are in line to receive £183 per capita.

Where funding was originally allocated to a county council or city region, the Guardian analysis split the funding across the lower-tier councils that will benefit from a scheme.

The announced funding is part of the Conservative party’s broader “levelling-up agenda”. Other announcements have already been made under the towns fund and the future high streets fund while a further pot, the £220m community renewal fund, is yet to be announced.

The first tranche of the £4.8bn levelling-up fund announced last week included cultural regeneration funding for Liverpool’s waterfront and the reopening of the Whorlton Bridge over the River Tees.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “This analysis is nonsense. The selection process for the levelling-up fund is transparent, robust and fair, and we publish the criteria on gov.uk.

“The first round of funding will help to ensure opportunity is spread more equally across the UK by empowering local leaders, improving public services and restoring pride in place.”

  • This article was amended on 2 November 2021. A Beatles-inspired attraction in Liverpool will not be funded by the levelling-up fund as an earlier version stated.
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Woman who masterminded self-kidnap, two others nabbed in Benin

A Benin, Edo State-based woman, Blessing Ogunu, who allegedly masterminded her own kidnap has been arrested by police operatives in the State.

The woman who is now cooling her feet with two other suspects in police custody, was arrested on 23 March, 2024.

The Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, in a statement on Monday in Benin, said the suspect was arrested with two other accomplices, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

According to him, “The Anti-Kidnapping and Cyber Crime Unit received a complaint from one Samuel Prince Omomuzo, of No 102 Ihama Road, GRA, Benin City who reported that one Blessing Ogunu, a staff of Bliss Legacy Limited, Benin City was kidnapped in Benin and the kidnappers demanded for four million, eight hundred thousand naira (N4,800,000.00) ransom.

“The operatives, using technical intelligence, arrested the supposed victim of the kidnap, one Blessing Ogunu, Esther Anthony and Ukpebor Joel.

“During interrogation, the supposed Blessing Ogunu confessed that she masterminded her self-kidnap because her company refused to allocate land to a customer whom they have received money from.”

Nwanbuzor disclosed that the suspects would soon be charged to court.

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NAF airstrikes eliminate 30 terrorist kingpins, fighters in Borno

The Air component of the Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), has executed a precision airstrike on the hideouts of ISWAP terrorists, killing over 30 of their fighters within Kolleram village along the shores of Lake Chad.

This is contained in a statement by AVM Edward Gabkwet, the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force (NAF), on Tuesday in Abuja.

Gabkwet said the airstrikes conducted on April 13, were a decisive blow against terrorism in the North-East.

He said the operation yielded significant success as the Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) post-strike conducted revealed the neutralisation of over 30 terrorists.

Gabkwet said that among those neutralised were some senior commanders of the insurgents including Ali Dawud, Bakura Fallujah, and Mallam Ari.

“Additionally, numerous vehicles, motorcycles, and logistical assets were destroyed, severely hampering the terrorists’ operational capabilities.

“Intelligence gathered after the air strike further indicated that the aerial bombardment effectively obliterated a key facility within the Kolleram enclave, which served as a hub for the terrorists’ food processing activities, including grinding machines.

“The success of these airstrikes underscores NAF’s commitment to eradicating terrorism and ensuring the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

“By neutralising key terrorist figures and destroying their logistical infrastructure, the operation has significantly degraded the capabilities of the ISWAP group in the region.

“These airstrikes complement the ongoing efforts of ground forces in the Lake Chad flank and represent a crucial step forward in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria,” he said.

(NAN)

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Francis Okoye arrested in Anambra bound commercial bus with firearms, POS machine

A 22-year-old man, Francis Obinna Okoye, has been arrested by operatives of Edo State Police Command’s Monitoring Unit for alleged possession of firearm.
Also recovered from him was a blue-coloured pos machine.
Okoye who resides at No 26, Jatto Street, Okolo, Lagos State, was arrested on 7 April, 2024.
A statement by the Command’s spokesman, SP Chidi Nwabuzor, said the suspect was apprehended by the  operatives while on stop and search duty along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Ovia river axis.
He was intercepted in a commercial bus loaded with passengers from Lagos state heading to Anambra state.
The suspect allegedly confessed in his statement that one Emma whose surname is unknown, gave him the gun to threaten his uncle, Mr. Paul Okoye, who was alleged to have killed his father with chams.
However, when operatives of the Command took him to Lagos on Monday, 8 April, 2024, to arrest Mr. Paul Okoye, they found out that the suspect lied to the operatives.
“The suspect will soon be process to
court,” the Edo Police Command spokesperson said.
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