Government refuses to help pay for new Walthamstow station entranceA bid for £20million in funding was rejected
A request for £20million to help prevent Walthamstow Central Tube Station becoming dangerously overcrowded was rejected by the government.
Councils across the UK were invited to bid for money from the £4.8billion Levelling Up Fund, which aims to "bring pride" to local areas.
Waltham Forest Council bid for help to realise plans for a new step-free entrance to the station, approved in January as part of the huge housing development being built on the shopping centre site.
Pre-pandemic passenger growth predictions warned Walthamstow Central would become dangerously overcrowded by 2031 unless new escalators and a lift helped spread passengers along the platforms.
At the council’s budget scrutiny committee meeting on 30th November, committee chair Keith Rayner questioned why the borough's bid had been rejected when neighbouring Newham was given £40m for two projects.
He said: “On the levelling-up agenda, we still in the same position as decades ago, we’re an outer London authority dealing with inner London pressures.
“I could add a footnote of why the hell Newham still gets it - but I won’t - are there any sunny uplands ahead?”
Council leader Grace Williams responded that decisions like this were why the council was pushing the government to give Waltham Forest a "fair deal".
She said: “It isn’t only to do with things like the Levelling Up Fund, although that is vitally important as a funding source for local government, there's also historically the public health grant, which is based on an ancient formula.
“I don't see any sunny uplands for London, or outer London in particular. We’ve come to the conclusion that, with Levelling Up... money is going to go from London to around the country."
Responding specifically to the money awarded to Newham, she noted that the borough "tends to get more because its deprivation levels are higher", whereas Waltham Forest tends to be "in the middle".
Newham Council was awarded £19.96m for a 15-Minute Neighbourhoods scheme, inspired by Waltham Forest, and £19.82m for a programme related to the use of data and digital technologies.
The cost of new Tube station entrance is now likely to fall on cash-strapped TfL, who previously said they would spend £15million, alongside a £1.5million contribution from the towers' developer Capital & Regional (C&R).
Waltham Forest Council have been approached for further detail about detail about their application earlier this week but have not replied at the time of writing.