SWLEP funds to be reallocation after People Friendly Salisbury suspended

THE city is set to miss out on more than a million pounds of funding, despite the council declaring its support for the People Friendly Streets scheme. 

£1.3million was being put towards the scheme by the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, as long as it was spent by March 2021.

But with the project indefinitely suspended, Paddy Bradley, chief executive officer of the SWLEP, has confirmed that the money will now be reallocated elsewhere in the county.

The funds were due to spent on the scheme’s complimentary measures, which included improvements to Shop Mobility, refurbishing Culver Street car park, bike racks and a bike repair station.

The SWLEP were due to discuss the funding on December 16 – two days after the meeting – but had already made the decision at the November board meeting, at which Wiltshire Council Leader Philip Whitehead was in attendance.

Curiously, the decision to reallocate the funding has not been included in the draft minutes for the meeting, that took place on November 25. 

That meant almost three weeks passed between the pulling of the money, and the extraordinary full council meeting, and no one at the city council had been notified – despite leader of Wiltshire Council, Philip Whitehead being present at the meeting.

Mr Bradley said: “This is public money we get from government. not our money, so a process needs to be followed.

“The money had to be spent by March 2021, and as Wiltshire Council said the scheme would be ‘indefinitely suspended’, the SWLEP board had to take a view on what to do with the money.

“We took the view that this meant the scheme would not be returning before March, and therefore the money needed to be reallocated.”

It comes after an extraordinary full city council meeting on Monday night, lasting three and a half hours, in which the council voted to support a future reintroduction of the scheme.

The city council’s decision to back the scheme ultimately did not influence the LEP’s decision, as the final decision on the scheme’s implementation lies with Wiltshire Council, not the city council.

The SWLEP says it remains “a strong supporter” of the scheme.

Cllr Liz Sirman, leader of Salisbury City Council, has been contacted for comment.

Wiltshire Council has been contacted for comment.

Salisbury Journal | News