'I'm sure Michael Gove has more intelligence' says Labour veteran after revamp snub

A Billingham stalwart has accused government chiefs of “living in cuckoo land” after Yarm benefitted from a £20m fund while his town went empty-handed.

Wednesday, 12th January 2022, 5:14 pm

Stockton South was successful in its £20m bid to the “Levelling Up Fund” with an overhaul at Preston Park, more cycle lanes and funding for a heritage centre at Yarm Town Hall set to benefit.

Stockton Council is reducing the number of offices it has from 10 to two – with a new headquarters at Dunedin House, Thornaby, and a new office hub in Billingham.

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Billingham town centre.

Cllr Barry Woodhouse praised leaders for keeping the plan to bring a council office in Billingham.

But the Labour veteran aimed his fire on former minister Robert Jenrick at Stockton’s latest people select committee.

“Hopefully in the next round of the Levelling Up Fund we get some money to improve Billingham’s lot,” he added.

“I don’t often give credit to the opposition but I’m sure Michael Gove has more intelligence than his predecessor who thought Yarm was more in need of levelling up than Billingham.

“Anybody who thinks that lives in cuckoo land.”

Cllr Woodhouse added he’d be writing to Mr Gove about the bid so the offices could come “as soon as possible”.

The authority has its sights on buying up the town’s western precinct to overhaul its “tired” town centre in a bid to deal with high vacancy rates hitting the area.