£2m fund agreed for Telford at 50 legacy
A £2 million fund to mark the 50th anniversary of Telford has been agreed by the borough’s council, with its leader launching a passionate defence of the move.
Shaun Davies, Labour leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said that he was aware the plan had attracted criticism from Conservative councillors but that the celebrations would make the community stronger.
The plan includes a £1 million “legacy fund” for organisations to celebrate Telford at 50, and another £1 million to invest in projects that “support the council’s existing priorities, help to build resilient and strong communities, and help to reduce demand upon public sector services”.
The proposal was passed at a meeting of Telford & Wrekin’s cabinet on Thursday evening.
The council was today set to reveal its logo for the celebrations, which was selected through a public vote.
In the face of criticism from Conservative leader Councillor Andrew Eade, Councillor Davies said: “I know this does not demand cross-party support.
“I know the Conservative group is against this investment and they have every right to be against this investment but I think this will allow our community to be proud about the past 50 years, look forward to the next 50 years, and the community will be stronger as a result.”
Councillor Davies said some of the projects funded by the scheme could include kitchens for community centres or mini buses for town councils.
He also said businesses had expressed an interest in supplying match-funding.
The move was criticised by Councillor Eade, who also questioned whether the celebrations were taking place at the right time.
He said: “I am slightly bemused because I remember vaguely the inception of Telford and that was Dawley New Town and that was in 1965.
“I am just wondering if you’re a few years too late and if you are actually celebrating the name change to Telford in 1968?”
Councillor Shirley Reynolds confirmed that the celebration was the creation of Telford New Town.
She said: “Telford New Town actually came into being in 1968. There may have been the New Towns Act before that but Telford New Town, which is what we are celebrating, started in 1968.”
Councillor Lee Carter added: “I think it will be fantastic for the town. At times we do have to do as much as we can to celebrate the community.”
Councillor Davies said he hoped that opposition councillors would support the scheme, and that he would “call out hypocrites” who later claim credit for the move.
He said: “I think as a proud son of Telford we have got lots to be proud of. We have already spoken about the schools today, we have spoken about the jobs being created, the support being put into all areas of the community and this is to encapsulate that.
“Those people who are hypocritical about this, who vote against it and criticise the move, we will call them out.”