PLANS for a £1million transport hub at Leamington train station have been scrapped amid claims funding is being prioritised for Coventry’s City of Culture.
Warwickshire County Council was vying for investment from government to pump ‘much-needed’ funds into developing the station’s forecourt. It said the cash would support ambitions to expand the Old Warwick Road station into a ‘major railway hub’.
The council hoped to create a bus interchange, a 240 space bike park, improved pedestrian access, a new taxi waiting area, car drop off and the refurbishment of the underpass leading to Station Approach.
But the bid has been unsuccessful after Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) – which distributes government funding – gave the cash to projects in neighbouring Coventry.
Leamington Green Party county councillor Jonathan Chilvers said over the last five years more than 70 per cent of CWLEP funding had been spent on Coventry projects despite Warwickshire having a larger population.
He believes Coventry being named City of Culture for 2021 has meant funding was being prioritised for the city.
He is demanding an explanation from CWLEP chief executive Martin Yardley.
Coun Chilvers told the Observer: “It was very disappointing the £1million bid for Leamington station forecourt was unsuccessful, especially when we find out that the Coventry-leaning criteria for the funding meant we hadn’t much chance.
“The area around the station could be so much better for pedestrians, bikes, electric taxis and buses. We will keep pushing to get investment to improve our town.”
And Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western was also unhappy about the decision.
He added: “I am disappointed the bid has not been successful. I recently met with the managing director of Chiltern Railways to discuss their understanding of why, as I was expecting good news considering how positive this development would be for Leamington.
“I am now working with Chiltern and other stakeholders to try and ensure the project materialises. I have also written to the relevant secretary of state on the issue.”
But the CWLEP says its £300million investments over the past six years have supported the area as a whole.
A CWLEP spokesman for the CWLEP said: “All partners recognise the strong inter-connectivity of the economy, leading to wider shared benefits across the whole area from these investments irrespective of the specific location.
“Although investment does not work to administrative boundaries, a broad analysis of funding shows a rational even spread geographically between Coventry and Warwickshire.
“Funding priorities are based on criteria agreed and are not based on geography and are regularly reviewed by the board directors.”