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Kilmarnock £20 million - Glasgow 0

Scotland’s biggest city misses out in the latest round of Levelling Up funding.

How the Palace Theatre will look following renovation

(Image: East Ayrshire Council)

East Ayrshire Council is upbeat about winning £20 million in Levelling Up funds for the proposed redevelopment of its Palace Theatre.

The theatre, an iconic Victorian building in the largely Brutalist-style and utilitarian Kilmarnock town centre, is slated for refurbishment as part of East Ayrshire’s urban regeneration plans.

When contacted, Council Leader Douglas Reid said the council was “tremendously excited” about the announcement.

“This is the stuff dreams are made of. This investment in our cultural offerings project will bring significant economic, social and environmental benefits to East Ayrshire,” Reid said.

The Kilmarnock Cultural Quarter, which is planned to be located east of the town centre, is slated to have cultural and outdoor performance venues, with event spaces connected by green corridors.

East Ayrshire Council Leader Douglas Reid (Photo: East Ayrshire Council)

The project could bring much-needed employment and training opportunities area still recovering from the loss of its biggest single employer,

Diageo, the multinational alcoholic drinks conglomerate, pulled out of Kilmarnock in 2012 creating a loss of over 700 jobs.

Despite the good news for Kilmarnock’s town centre, not everyone was pleased with the manner in which the funds were allocated.

The People’s Palace is amongst the Glasgow bids to miss out in the latest round of Levelling Up Image Credit: Derek Lewis

Kilmarnock resident Gordon Walker, a retired marketing and strategic management expert said the £20 million awarded was a pittance, and the Levelling Up funds awards process went against Scotland’s devolution framework.

“The UK government now bypasses ministers in Edinburgh, with Scottish local authorities and organisations applying straight to the Department for Levelling Up,” said Gordon.

Retired marketing and management expert Gordon Walker (Photo: Derek Lewis)

Walker said the refurbishment plans would take years to roll out, and pointed to multiple social problems such as energy costs and healthcare workers being forced to resort to food banks.

“Perhaps the levelling up money could have been better spent elsewhere,” he remarked.

Just 20-odd miles north, however, all seven of Glasgow’s applications for Levelling Up grants were unsuccessful in their bids for funding.

Retired marketing and management expert Gordon Walker (Photo: Derek Lewis)

Reacting to missing out on the second round of the Levelling Up funding, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said, “Any claim that this process will address inequalities has been proven to be an utter sham.”


Prior to Brexit, money from the European Union was used to pay for improvements to roads in Harris and Skye, the Falkirk Wheel canal boat lift, and Dalmarnock Station in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.

The UK Conservative government established the Shared Prosperity Fund to take over the role of the European structural funds and announced that any shortfall would be made up with cash typically transferred to Brussels.

Data from the Scottish Government, on the other hand, indicates that Scotland is missing out on more than £300m in funding that the European Union used to give. This would have added up to £549m over the same time period.

The Palace Theatre Kilmarnock has been Awarded £20 million

Image Credit: Derek Lewis

Video credit: Derek Lewis Voice of Councillor Reid appears courtesy of East Ayrshire Council

Other projects that received funding from the latest tranche of levelling up funding in Scotland include:

Fair Isle (Shetland Islands)

£27m for a new roll-on, roll-off ferry

Peterhead & MacDuff (Aberdeenshire)

Cumbernauld (North Lanarkshire)

Dumfries and Galloway

Greenock town centre (Inverclyde)


Forthside (Stirling)

Cockenzie (East Lothian)


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