The Isle of Wight is get to nearly £6 million in cash from the government's Levelling Up fund, creating vital marine jobs and new public spaces for East Cowes.

£5.8 million will be heading to the Island (an announcement was made this lunchtime), which is a share of a £1.7 billion fund set up by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The Isle of Wight's bid for the cash was submitted earlier this year.

Breaking news of its success on Twitter, MP Bob Seely wrote he was delighted to be able to confirm the award, saying it meant a positive future for East Cowes and the Island.

Isle of Wight County Press: The former Victorian barracks in East Cowes, where Britbox's The Beast Must Die was filmed.The former Victorian barracks in East Cowes, where Britbox's The Beast Must Die was filmed.

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In a statement to the County Press, Mr Seely said: "Delighted to confirm that, as part of Rishi and Boris’s levelling up plans for Britain, we’ve had the Island’s levelling up bid accepted. It's great news.

"The funding means improved facilities at the Columbine building (now Venture Quays): A greater refit capacity for marine clients, creating a centre of excellence for the research and development, construction and servicing of the green energy boat sector, vital for the Island’s future.

"Funding also means renovating the adjacent Victorian barracks for multi-purpose accommodation, linked to marine skills.

"It means a new public square in East Cowes, hopefully with a water sports slipway.

"All the elements mean jobs, prosperity and a better future for East Cowes and the Island."

Isle of Wight County Press: Boris Johnson in East Cowes in 2019.Boris Johnson in East Cowes in 2019.

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The areas being targeted were originally part of wide-ranging, long-awaited and now defunct SEEDA plans.

More than decade ago, a new hotel and other leisure facilities and employment opportunities all went to public consultation.

Later, there was a new bid to develop part of the town's seafront into a marina.

Much of the plan has since fallen through - culminating in the purchase of the Venture Quays building - currently home to international boat building firm Wight Shipyard - by the Isle of Wight Council.

East Cowes is one of a handful of gateway towns for visitors to the Island and there have long been hopes that its empty buildings will be developed in a way that benefits the town.

Isle of Wight County Press: Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely.Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely.

Mr Seely said today's announcement will mean a bright future for the marine sector and local residents. 

He told the County Press: "We were not in the first round of priority bids. We had to change that and we did.

"Thanks to Boris and Rishi and their teams for listening and moving us up the priority funding list.

"I made very clear to minsters that the Island needed this funding to invest in green shipbuilding and new jobs. We won the argument.

"This is all possible because the Isle of Wight Council and I worked to get the buildings after a previous deal, a bad one for the Island, fell through."

Isle of Wight Council bought Venture Quays in September 2020.

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Mr Seely said: "From a poor future for these buildings, we’ve got a very positive one, creating jobs and prosperity for the future.

"Thank you to the previous, Conservative-led council for putting this bid together and to council officers, led by Chris Ashman.

"I am sure that the new, Alliance-led council will work with me to deliver a successful project.

"It’s also great for East Cowes.

"I am VERY aware that the town has been hurt by the ongoing dramas over the floating bridge.

"When people ask me what we are going to do to help East Cowes, the levelling up bid is my answer."

Isle of Wight County Press: East Cowes Esplanade.East Cowes Esplanade.

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The news has already been welcomed by Isle of Wight Council's regeneration lead, Cllr Julie Jones-Evans.