COUNCIL bosses missed a deadline for submitting a £16m levelling up funding bid for Crompton Place as an email was 'too big to send'.

Further revelations have emerged about the late application for the town centre development, which was supposed to be sent to the levelling up fund by noon by June 18.

Last month it was revealed council bosses blamed the complexity of the project and ‘technical issues with an IT system’ for the gaffe which saw them miss this Government cut-off.

At Monday night’s corporate scrutiny meeting of the council, the borough’s director of place, Gerry Brough, gave a presentation the councillors about the Crompton Place bid and the events of June 18.

He said the successful £20m levelling up bid for the new medical college at the hospital site was submitted first, prior to the noon deadline.

He said: “Two bids were being simultaneously submitted.

“Both bids involved collating many separate documents and third party letters of support and unfortunately we did not receive all necessary signed documents until that morning.

“At the point of submission, it became apparent that file size limitations on the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government server meant that both bids had to be broken down into four separate parts so they could be attached to four separate emails.

“The medical college bid was submitted first and in full before the noon deadline.

“However, the Crompton Place bid could not be submitted in full before the deadline.

“Council officers notified them that some documentation was submitted after the deadline and received confirmations that all documentation had been received.

“No indication was provided at this point that the bid was unacceptable.

“Failure to submit before the deadline was only highlighted as an issue when the ministry confirmed our bid was unsuccessful in October.

“Had all the documentation been submitted before the deadline there is no certainty that the bid would have been approved.”

Following the meeting, opposition Labour leader, Cllr Nick Peel said: “It is now six weeks since the announcement that we were unsuccessful in our bid, and the only details that have been forthcoming from the council as to why we failed is due to the fact that I have asked the relevant questions.

“Had I not pursued this, the public of Bolton would have been kept completely in the dark.

“These are not the actions of an open and transparent council.

“That said, I am far from happy with the answers I have received.

“The fact is that the council did drop the ball, and whole saga still leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

“It is quite frankly a very costly mess.”

Mr Brough said unsuccessful first round bids from the fund could be re-submitted as second round bids and the work undertaken can still be used to produce a viable second round bid.

The £250m redevelopment of Crompton Place, which was granted planning permission last year, would see the current shopping centre demolished, with 46 new retail units and a 110-room hotel created, along with a 300 space car park, offices and more than 150 homes.

The levelling up funding, if successful, would have been used for the demolition and redevelopment of the west side of the building.

The council hoped having this funding source would have made investing more attractive to developers.

In October, the project suffered another blow, when development partners pulled out of the scheme.

The council cited the pandemic and ‘the decline in demand for office space’ as some of the reasons backers pulled-out, and said they were confident that new developers will be confirmed in the future.