Wisbech’s euro millions hopes

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Wisbech could be getting €3 million from the European Union to help change social and economic conditions if a new bid is successful.

The town, along with the Lincoln Road area of Peterborough, are the only two areas identified by the Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Economic Partnership to receive social inclusion project grants due to deprivation.

But for the town to win the cash, it must go through a bidding process. Wisbech Town Council agreed to give £1,250 towards the £25,000 costs for Cambridgeshire Acre to submit the bid.

Funding is also hoped to be received by Acre, Cambridgeshire County Council, the county’s development team and Fenland District Council.

Speaking at Monday’s town council meeting, Dan Horn, head of housing and community support at Fenland District Council, said: “I think the potential of this is really worth going for, for the town of Wisbech.” He said strategies for this money had been compiled over the last two years.

Under the complicated process a first stage application will be submitted shortly.

If this is successful, a local group could be formed to identify funding priorities in the town and would accept grant applications.

Cllr Steve Tierney said: “I do have a few problems. We seem to have two years of strategy leading to a strategy and now we have to give money to another strategy which could lead to €3 million and I don’t understand what we are going to do with that.”

Cllr Viv MacRae expressed concerns about the sustainability of any schemes which could be created using this money. She said: “Experience tells me we can have these wonderful schemes going for a certain amount of time.”

Cllr Carol Cox said: “With the EU, all they are doing is giving us a small percentage of our own money. It seems they make us jump through hoop after hoop just to get what we deserve.”

Cllr Virginia Bucknor said: “If we are successful with the next stage and then go onto the third stage, the EU could be writing out a big cheque which could benefit Wisbech.

“I propose we give £1,250 towards this potential €3 million.” Members agreed to the proposal with an amendment by Cllr Tierney, which asked for the council to have representatives on the group.