BASILDON has lost out on millions of pounds of Government funding to improve the town centre.

Former leader Tory Andrew Baggott claimed the bid had not been submitted in time due to a change in administration however a spokesman for Basildon Council has since confirmed the bid was simply rejected.

The spokesman for the council, who was not available to comment when details of the funding was announced, said: "We can confirm that the council did submit a bid to the High Street Fund.

"Bids were for funding to further develop project proposals, rather than the projects themselves.

"Our bid was for Basildon Town Centre. Whilst we were unsuccessful in this round, the High Street Fund have invited us to submit future bids which of course we will be doing”.

On Monday the Government announced 100 towns and cities across England will benefit from a share of a £1billion fund to revitalise ailing high streets.

Basildon was not among them.

Councillor Gavin Callaghan, Labour leader of Basildon Council, claimed the town would “only” have got about £25m at most and Basildon needs much more.

He said: “I am not sure if we did enter a bid for the funding.

“It seems to me like it’s mostly for marginal seats and so the Government is just ploughing money into those areas.

“We are in the early stages of developing our brand new masterplan.

“We are not in a place to tell the Government how this money would be used but will be by next March.

“We would have to be clear what we would spend this funding on, but we don’t know.”

He has since confirmed a bid was submitted and he would support future bids.

Tory Andrew Baggott, the former council leader, said: “The scheme was launched in December which is not the best time for councils.

“We gave officers the instructions to work up a proposal but it was still being worked on when control of the council changed. As the former leader it’s disappointing that we have missed out as it would have been great for Basildon.”

The funding can be used for schemes such as improving transport links or converting empty shops into new homes and offices.

* The Echo contacted Basildon Council after the Government announced the 100 towns and cities who had funding bids accepted. The council was asked to comment on missing out. Nobody from the council was available to comment. Current leader Gavin Callaghan stated he was not sure if a bid had been submitted. Former leader Andrew Baggott confirmed a bid was due to be submitted but this didn't happen due to the change in administration. Basildon Council has now confirmed a bid was submitted but was unsuccessful. We are happy to clarify and acted in good faith during the publication of the original story.