Cornwall Council is considering a legal challenge against the Government’s decision not to put Cornwall at the front of the queue for Levelling Up funding.

Cornwall has been placed in Tier 2 for the Government’s Levelling Up funding programme and not in the top Tier 1 despite having received EU funding for more than a decade to recognise Cornwall being one of the poorest regions in the UK.

Tim Dwelly, Cabinet member for economy, said that he had written to Secretary of State Robert Jenrick asking for an explanation for why Cornwall is in Tier 2.

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But he told a meeting of Cabinet this morning that the council is considering whether to call for a judicial review of the decision.

He said: “We are exploring judicial review to challenge the methodology and we are not the only local authority to be looking at this.

“We think there are possible grounds that a mistake has been made and we are actively looking at that.

“I hope that the Government looks again and puts us into Tier 1.”

However, the leader of the Conservative group at Cornwall Council, Linda Taylor, claimed that Cornwall has not been made a priority for Levelling Up funding because of the “huge amount of investment” it has already received.

Cornwall councillors have raised concerns about this and have also highlighted that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that Cornwall will not lose out on funding it would have had if the UK remained in the EU.

A bid for funding has been made for Cornwall to get £100million a year which councillors say would be the equivalent of what would have been given to Cornwall if still in the EU.

But it has been revealed that the Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) which is designed to provide replacement funding, will have just £220m for the whole of the UK and that Cornwall is set to get just £3m in the first year.

In his opening comments to Cabinet council leader Julian German said: “In its recent Spending Review, the Government quietly announced that Cornwall would not be in Tier One for the new Levelling Up Fund, but would instead be in Tier Two, leaving us at risk of missing out on vital funding.

“There is £4.8billion to be allocated for infrastructure projects across the UK, mainly focused on town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects and culture and heritage.

“Now, thanks to the Government’s decision, we will not be at the front of the queue for this vital support, despite being recognised as one of the most economically-deprived regions of the country.

“With the loss of EU funding we are facing following Brexit, to be told we are in the second-tier is a huge blow.  The cynical among us may suggest that the funding is being targeted at more politically-sensitive constituencies, but whatever the reason, it is damaging for us all.”

Cllr Linda Taylor said: “The Levelling Up fund is totally different to the Shared Prosperity Fund and the criteria for the Levelling Up fund is to target areas that have not had that investment, now, obviously, Cornwall has had huge investment from the Government, we have been talking about the transport infrastructure funding, the Towns Fund and the heritage and culture fund, so I wanted to make that quite clear, it is totally different to the Shared Prosperity Fund which will be replacing EU funding.”

Cllr Dwelly responded to Cllr Taylor saying that her comments were “strange” and sounded like a message from Whitehall to Cornwall. He said he hoped the Conservative councillor would support the council in lobbying the Government for funding.

He said that while Boris Johnson had said that Cornwall would get the same level of funding as it would have had from the EU for the first year of SPF funding it would get £3m.

Cllr Dwelly said: “Why does that first year matter? There are two words covid and Brexit. This is the worst possible time for Cornwall to go down.

“In Devon there are eight authorities which will each get £3m from the fund so in Devon they will have £3m times eight which is £24m. Cornwall will get just £3m.

“I can’t see how you can look at what is coming next year to be anything other than a huge disaster.

“This coming year Cornwall will get £3m for the period that we would have otherwise had European funding. Had we stayed in the EU or the Prime Minister Borish Johnson’s pledge had followed through we would have had £100m.”

Cllr Dwelly said that while the first year of the SPF funding was a pilot scheme he was not confident that even when the full programme starts that Cornwall would get the £100m a year that the council says it needs. He said that it was expected that Cornwall would get 3.8% of the total funding available.

He said: “My calculation is that the very, very least we will be looking at £58m, not £100m. Cornwall is being levelled down.”