LABOUR’S leader in BCP has accused the council of “abandoning Boscombe” in light of the ditched Royal Arcade plans. 

Cllr Patrick Canavan, ward councillor in Boscombe West, said residents often ask him “what on earth have they done with that money?” by residents.

It comes after BCP Council’s cabinet agreed to ditch the development of the town’s Royal Arcade in Christchurch Road, which would have included new office space and a food court. 

Labour’s Cllr Canavan said: “If we were starting again I wouldn’t manage that money the same way.  

Bournemouth Echo: Patrick CanavanPatrick Canavan (Image: NQ)

“I often get asked questions from residents about ‘what on earth has the council done with that money?’ because the residents see very little change in Boscombe having had that significant amount of money some time ago. 

“There is some frustration, but I am grateful for the chief executive who tried to keep this project on the road despite some very bumpy journey along the way.” 

He described remaining funding as “crumbs of the table”, adding there are people “anxious to know” the money will be put to see some visible improvements to Boscombe. 

“Residents I talk to feel that for some considerable period of time nobody cares about Boscombe, that it’s been left to decay without any work being done to make it the thriving place it could be,” he added. 

Bournemouth Echo:

Council leader Vikki Slade said: “No money is going out of Boscombe because of this; all the money is staying in Boscombe.  

“This is a project to fund the renovation of one building. The building will still be there and there is still the opportunity for somebody to pick it up and spend money in the future.  

“Every penny will be redistributed among the projects.” 

BCP Council estimated that buying and renovating the building would cost £11.54m, which would include extensive structural and internal building works. 

Cllr Kieron Wilson added the other projects would “revitalise Boscombe” and that buying the Royal Arcade would be “really difficult to maintain” in the future. 

Bournemouth Echo: Boscombe bus stationBoscombe bus station (Image: Daily Echo)

The Towns Funds programme, which BCP Council applied for to the government's levelling up department, comprises 10 projects at a cost of £21.7million. 

One of the biggest projects includes losing 353 car parking spaces in Hawkwood Road and replacing them with more than 60 flats, a medical centre, a community centre and a "green oasis". 

Another project includes the Toft Box Park, a ‘business park’ along Boscombe beach made up of shipping containers. 

Costing £140k, businesses were supposed to move into the containers last Easter, but due to “severe weather”, this was pushed back a year later to spring 2024. 

Wi-Fi, Kings Park activity and learning hub and a clean up of the high street were all also funded by the Towns Fund.