By Ian MeanBusiness West Gloucestershire director

We were all proud to to see Stroud named by the Sunday Times as the best place to live in Britain.

It is a place that has true character in its communities nestling in lovely countryside.

And in the country’s social mobility league it is always in the top 20 places.

But it does need to move forward and have a vision that matches that label of the best place to live.

So, I am interested in why Stroud District Council has not made any sort of bid for government Levelling Up money.

I am questioning this after Mark Dransfield, the owner of Dransfield Properties, who has so far sunk something like £25 million into regenerating the old Merrywalks shopping centre, pressed the council to make a bid.

He even offered his own teams of professionals to help with the bid which had to be in by June 18.

The council told me it has decided-in consultation with the Town Council, MP and LEP, to submit a bid in round 2 of the Levelling up Fund.

In their words the council says this will enable “the strongest possible bid to be prepared that meets the essential scheme criteria and improve the chance of securing the best outcomes for the district.”

 I think this is a missed opportunity, and I understand the Stroud MP, Siobhan Baillie, shares my view.

Yes, I am very aware that Stroud is not seen as a needy area by government and not a Priority 1 area for Levelling Up cash as Gloucester and the Forest of Dean are in Gloucestershire.

But surely the council could have gone for a smaller project piece in the town’s jigsaw rather than bid for the full £20 million as the Forest has done.

After all, with the pressures on government finances through Covid, will this fund money be even available next year?

Quite simply, I feel that Stroud District Council and the Town Council must realise they need  firm plans to regenerate Stroud and help it live up to that accolade of the best place to live in Britain.

What do you think? (ian.mean@businesswest.co.uk

*Ian Mean is a board member of GFirstLEP. He was vice chair of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company for seven years.

 

Gazette Series Gloucestershire