Bolton Council spent more than £150,000 on applications to the Levelling Up scheme which were doomed from the start, the borough's Labour Group said.

These bids, each worth £20 million, were lodged last summer but were overlooked when the outcome of Round Two was announced at the start of this year.

According to data obtained by the borough's Labour Group this week, the preparation and the submission of these applications to the Levelling Up scheme cost more than £150,000 – £125,000 from a government grant and the rest from Bolton Council resources.

The Bolton News: Bolton town centre levelling up

READ MORE: Bolton misses out on town centre and De Havilland Way bids.

But an update to councillors last month suggested the resources were wasted as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) made changes to its criteria due to the level of demand, with more than 500 bids submitted in total.

Paul Whittingham, the assistant director of the place directorate, told councillors on a scrutiny committee the changes to the criteria included one which made it a lot less likely for local authorities successful in Round One to be successful in Round Two. 

This applies to this borough, which was successful with an application for Bolton College of Medical Sciences a year and a half ago.

READ MORE: All of the North West areas to succeed in 'Levelling Up' bids.

Mr Whittingham said: "This wasn't available to us. We didn't know about this."

Nick Peel, the leader of the Labour Group, said this suggested the applications were doomed from the start.

Cllr Peel and colleagues said the outcome was a sign of a lack of confidence by the Conservative Government in the only Conservative Council in Greater Manchester.

He said: "We didn't know about this. Paul Whittingham didn't know, the director [of the place directorate] didn't know and the leader didn't know, because if we knew about this, we wouldn't have spent all the energy, all the money and all the time on bids."

The Bolton News:

Martyn Cox, the leader of Bolton Council, shared in the disappointment of those across the council chamber.

However, Cllr Cox said the success for Bolton College of Medical Sciences answered any suggestion of a lack of confidence in his administration.

He said: "I have made my disappointment clear in council, on the radio and on TV and I have secured a meeting with the secretary of state over our bids and future bids.

"I am not going to get this council in a position again where it's spending large amounts of money on bids when it's made clear that those that were successful the first time will be hampered in their bids."

The Bolton News:

Bolton Council's applications to the Levelling Up scheme were for the town centre and for De Havilland Way.

The aim of the bid for the town centre was to add a hotel to Le Mans Crescent and a conference complex to Albert Halls, and to improve Market Place shopping centre and the area around Mawdsley Street.

Meanwhile the aim of the bid for De Havilland Way was to increase capacity and to improve connectivity in what is an area of significant congestion between the Beehive Roundabout and the motorway.

Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi said: “We desperately need investment into our local community and to support our high street and instead we are wasting time on doomed-to-fail bids in an oversubscribed fund.”

“The Department’s levelling up grant of £125,000 would have been better used to hire five Council staff members, support local charities, provide rent relief for businesses, or fund a cost of living support grant. It is a dereliction of duty at every level.”

The council expects to receive feedback on its applications in the form of a letter from the DLUHC, although this was not received as of last month.

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.