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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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Bauchi pays N3.418bn in outstanding gratuities

The Bauchi State Pensions Board has announced that, from May 2019 to date, the state government has paid N3,418,288,11.68 in outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants.

The Chairman of the Board, Senator Bala Adamu Kariya, made the disclosure at the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, held at the State Secretariat.

Although Senator Kariya did not specify the total gratuity backlog, he noted that it exceeds N20 billion.

He stated that since the inception of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in 2019, a total of 4,273 people have retired, and 677 have died while in service, out of 4,948 files processed.

“The Board processes the files of civil servants due for retirement. We are the custodians of the processed files of all state civil servants who have retired,” the chairman stated.

Senator Adamu, however, said that in order to avoid further accumulation of pension and gratuity liabilities, the state government intends to commence the implementation of the proposed contributory pension scheme on June 30, 2021.

“As a sign of commitment, His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, appointed a 20-member committee, including a staff member of Messrs Premium Pension Ltd for technical guidance under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdon Dalla Gin (Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters).”

“In line with the Terms of Reference to the Committee, a final report with a draft bill has been carefully produced, tapping from the 2004 Act, 2014 revised Act, and previous efforts of successive state administrations like the 2005 and 2017 draft bills, and was presented to His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, as appropriate.”

He recalled that Governor Bala Mohammed had presented the report to the State Executive Council for consideration and approval, following which a draft bill was forwarded to the State House of Assembly for further legislative process in line with the laid down constitutional procedure.

“After gathering the necessary stakeholders’ input, the State House of Assembly then ratified the draft and returned the same to the Executive Governor for assent. Consequently, on August 5, 2022, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, assented to the bill enacted by the State House of Assembly.”

“It was named the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme. The law also provided for the establishment of the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Commission.”

“The state governor approved the constitution of another high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, the Secretary to the State Government, to facilitate the full implementation process of the new scheme in the state.”

Kariya further explained that prior to this development, the state government appointed two firms of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), who have now engaged stakeholders in a massive sensitization, advocacy, and enlightenment of the scheme across the state.

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Two-storey building collapses in Abuja

A two-storey residential building in Phase 2, site 2, Kubwa Abuja has collapsed

The building collapsed on Saturday morning at about 7:00am.

It was learnt that the building was formerly a hotel, Al-Hilal, but was converted to a residential apartment.

It was gathered that several people are currently trapped in the rubble.

As at time of filing this report, emergency responders and security personnel were at the scene.

 

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Police to enforce e-CMR compliance from July 29

The Nigeria Police Force have given all motor users 14 days to register their vehicles with the newly-introduced digitalized Central Motor Registration (e-CMR), which will end on July 29, to begin the enforcement of its compliance in order to checkmate the rate of vehicle-related crimes and other offenses.

In a press release, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, informed that the move is part of the efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, to enhance the security of lives and property and significantly boost the nation’s safety.

The release further stated that the exercise is an advanced form of helping security agencies, mostly the Police Force, in their investigations and operational activities to combat vehicle-related crimes, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other social vices.

It also stated that the introduction of the e-CMR digitalized system will help streamline the documentation and verification process for vehicle ownership and related transactions.

“Following the directives of the IGP, services such as change of ownership, change of license number, change of engine, and change of chassis/body would become seamless as the e-CMR system would ensure the validation of vehicle genuineness and ownership, enhancing the ability to track and recover stolen vehicles effectively, and preventing the purchase of stolen vehicles by innocent buyers.

“Prior to the enforcement itself, the IGP has ordered full publicity of the e-CMR and its enforcement to all members of the public, intimating them of the requirements, processes, and the enforcement procedures. Members of the public are urged to obtain the digitalized CMR certificate online at https://cmris.npf.gov.ng.

‘For further inquiries, individuals can contact the CMR Command Centre at FHQ Abuja (08117777666, 09169892000) and FHQ Annex Lagos (08117777555, 09169891000). Technical support is also available at cmftech@npfcmr.ng,” the release partly stated.

Following this new development, the Nigeria Police have enjoined members of the public to participate in the exercise by ensuring that all vehicle users comply with the new directive, maintaining that the initiative, which is in line with modern technology, remains a strategic approach to enhance public safety and national security.

ACP Adejobi further stated that the enforcement of the e-CMR is necessary to ensure a safer and more secure environment for vehicle ownership and to decimate the trend of vehicle theft by greatly reducing the possibility of selling stolen vehicles in the country.

“We therefore urge all vehicle owners and users to embrace and participate in this initiative promptly for optimum safety and security,” he stated.

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