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Moray's failed Levelling Up Fund bid a 'major disappointment'


By Ewan Malcolm

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MORAY'S failed bid for the UK Government's Levelling Up Fund has been labelled a 'major disappointment'.

Moray MSP Douglas Ross and Moray Council Leader Kathleen Robertson said that the bid's failure was disappointing news for the region.
Moray MSP Douglas Ross and Moray Council Leader Kathleen Robertson said that the bid's failure was disappointing news for the region.

Moray Council announced last summer that it would bid for over £18 million from the fund to support an Elgin town centre masterplan.

The plan would see the reopening of the Elgin Club, more than 20 years after its closure, with the hope of creating 32 jobs.

A creative arts centre would also provide eight new jobs, while issues at the Auction Mart and former Sawmill by Linkwood Road would be addressed before they are opened up for commercial development.

Meanwhile, Cooper Park would be redesigned, with walkways across the pond, a café and an amphitheatre.

It was hoped that the masterplan would not only overhaul the town but also create recovery and future growth not just for Elgin but the wider Moray region.

However, the UK Government have announced that ten projects were successful, including Aberdeenshire Council's bid, but that Moray has missed out.

An artist's impression of what the amphitheatre in Cooper Park would look like.
An artist's impression of what the amphitheatre in Cooper Park would look like.

Moray MP Douglas Ross said that the news was a "major disappointment" for the region.

Mr Ross said: “I was hopeful that Moray Council’s ambitious bid to round two of the Levelling Up Fund would be successful, but ultimately that has proven not to be the case.

“Naturally I’m very disappointed in that outcome. I know how much work went into Moray’s bid and it was full of fantastic proposals to bring new jobs and investment to the area.

“I am urgently seeking meetings with the relevant UK Government ministers to get feedback on Moray’s bid and discuss what went wrong, and where our area can improve in any future bids.

“This isn’t the end of the road for funding opportunities for Moray though, far from it.

"There are many other avenues to explore in getting funding from the UK Government and I will continue to lobby ministers at every opportunity to secure crucial investment for Moray.”

Moray Council submitted the bid in July last year after approving the masterplan for the town centre, which had been designed with help from Elgin BID, in November, 2021.

Moray Council leader Kathleen Robertson praised the hard work of the team within the council for the “excellent bid” they put together.

Cllr Robertson said: “This is deeply disappointing news for Moray. I’d like to praise the officials and teams within the council who put this excellent bid together to try and secure Levelling Up Funding.

“This council is unashamedly fighting for every penny of investment to come to Moray so this is obviously a blow that the area has been overlooked on this occasion.

“We need these sorts of projects to attract people to come and make Moray their home and boost the local economy.

“I will continue to work closely with Douglas as the local MP and other interested stakeholders to ensure that future funding will come to Moray.”


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