Anger over ‘missing’ £7.5m to regenerate Millfield after £650,000 spent in three years
Only £650,000 of a promised £7.5 million investment to regenerate Millfield and New England has been spent in the past three years.
In 2017, Peterborough City Council’s Conservative administration proposed the large sum to be spent on: public realm and street scene, community facilities and improvement to areas of open space.
But despite the budget proposals being approved in March just £663,000 of the allocated money has been spent so far.
The council said last October that the Cabinet “reaffirmed its commitment to investment in the Lincoln Road area... subject to a clear business case being established for individual projects which could deliver value for money in addressing local needs”.
But it added: “Peterborough City Council is now operating in challenging and unpredicted times due to the impact of Covid-19 and increased budget pressures in recent years.
“This means difficult investment decisions are being undertaken and a small number of funding projects have had budgets redistributed.”
The lack of spending has prompted anger from local residents with a Facebook group called ‘Millfield’s Missing Millions, 7.5 Million to start with’ even being set up.
One recent post states: “£7.5 Million has been squandered by this administration that is rightfully ours.”
A particular frustration is the lack of progress on a community centre which was expected to be built.
Cllr Peter Hiller, cabinet member for strategic planning, commercial strategy and investment at the council, said: “The council is committed to investing in projects in Lincoln Road - subject to available resources - where a key business case has been identified which demonstrates a real return on any investment in terms of residents’ health, wellbeing and pride in their neighbourhood.
“As a result of financial pressures on the council due to reduced government funding and the impact of Covid-19, we have not been able to invest as heavily as we would have liked three years ago.
“We are committed to the regeneration of this area which does require considerable capital investment to move it forward and we are actively seeking means to do this.
“We are currently working on securing a bid for funding with the Peterborough application to the Towns Fund which, if supported, would see considerable improvements to be made in Lincoln Road. News regarding the bid should be heard later in October 2020.”
Council leader Cllr John Holdich added: £With regards to investment within Millfield it is important to note that over the past few years approximately £150 million has been spent on schools, directly benefiting young people living in Millfield and the surrounding area.
“We are also working in partnership with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to move the bus depot in Lincoln Road to an alternative site with the aim of freeing up space and finances for regeneration.”
What the money has been spent on:
. Three play areas have had new equipment installed
. A total of 30 planters which had previously been overgrown have been “transformed” and are still being maintained by the community
. More 30 trees have been planted in locations where trees had previously been removed. These are being watered by local volunteers
. A “state of the art” ‘green gym’ has been installed at Connect Park between Gladstone Street and Bourges Boulevard
. A new urban park has been installed along Dyson Close with match-funding from WREN.
A council spokesperson added: “We are working with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to find a suitable place to move the Stagecoach depot which will have a positive impact on the Lincoln Road corridor.
“The council has been working with landscape architects LDA Design to identify public realm improvement schemes to improve the Lincoln Road corridor where many businesses are located.
“Concept schemes have been developed to support the revitalisation of the public realm.
“The Thomas Deacon Trust have, via a community asset transfer, taken over the operation of the Gladstone Park Community Centre.”