MICHAEL Gove visited the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead after it received £4.8m from the Levelling Up Fund - one of several funding strands from the levelling up agenda. 

The Levelling Up Secretary toured the project on the afternoon of May 7, which is currently under construction.

Virginia Crosbie, MP for Ynys Môn, and volunteers from the centre, joined Mr Gove on his tour; they witnessed the construction progress made so far and next steps for the project. 

The investment is supporting a large extension to the centre, so it can create a new space for new community events. 

Mr Gove's visit to Anglesey was part of the fourth UK Islands Forum with island leaders from across the UK. The two-day event, chaired by Mr Gove, concludes today (May 8). It is the first time it has been held on Anglesey.

North Wales Chronicle: Michael Gove with MP Virginia CrosbieMichael Gove with MP Virginia Crosbie (Image: Submitted)
“Our islands contribute so much to the UK, and we value everything that’s distinct about them," Mr Gove said.

“These projects have been made possible by the successful collaboration through our UK Island Forum, with our fourth event taking place on the Isle of Anglesey/Ynys Môn today.  

“The forum gives island leaders the chance to discuss the unique issues that matter most to their communities, and I am thrilled to see our discussions paving the way for vital change in areas like transport and driving forward green growth on islands.”

The Ucheldre Centre is one of the leading arts centres in Wales - a vital community asset hosting projects and groups in the creative industries.

Holyhead received £17m from the Levelling Up Fund Round 2 for their suite of projects, titled - 'A Culture and Heritage Driven Transformation'.

The Ucheldre Centre is being revamped with £4.8m from the Levelling Up Fund, supported by £750k from Welsh Government and the Welsh Arts Council in match funding.

North Wales Chronicle: Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove toured the project yesterday afternoon, which is currently under constructionLevelling Up Secretary Michael Gove toured the project yesterday afternoon, which is currently under construction (Image: Submitted)
The LUF investment at the Ucheldre Centre is providing support towards a large extension which will provide an expanded space for existing and new community events.

It was revealed during the forum that Island communities across the UK will benefit from new £1.6m UK Government funding to help improve vital transport links, helping to support jobs and grow the economy.  

The forum helps to level up island communities by encouraging collaboration on common challenges such as skills, connectivity and infrastructure, as well as exploring shared opportunities, such as the transition to net zero.

It also allows the UK government to hear and learn from island communities to inform future policy. 

Ms Crosbie, who spoke at the Forum event, said: "I am delighted the Islands forum came to Ynys Môn. It is another example of how Anglesey is front and centre of policy when it comes to our rich range of islands right around the coast of the United Kingdom."

Ms Crosbie continued: “Here on Ynys Môn, as is the story for other islands, we have seen first-hand what happens when large employers leave and skilled well-paid local employment becomes scarce.  The average house price on our Island is £250,000 with average pay at around £27,000 – the sums simply don’t add up for those who want to get onto the housing ladder.

“That is why every year we haemorrhage young people who leave in search of work taking our Welsh language and culture with them. And data shows that every year our retired and economically inactive population grows.  The median age on the island is now 48 years old – six years older than the Welsh average. 

“A shortage of affordable homes combined with this ever-increasing burden on our council can only lead to the sort of issues we are all seeing on our islands.

"In the past three years Anglesey Council and I have worked together to bring UK government levelling up funding here: £26m for Anglesey Freeport, £17m to regenerate our port town of Holyhead, £16m from the Shared Prosperity Fund, £2.7m from the Community Renewal Fund.  

“The Government has also put its weight behind bringing new nuclear to Wylfa with a £160m investment as well as supporting jobs at RAF Valley with millions of pounds of funding.

“It is these investments – used wisely – that will give us the tools to start to reverse the housing crisis on Anglesey.”

Jacob Young, Levelling Up Minister, said: “The Islands Forum has been a wonderful innovation that has helped to put our island communities at the heart of UK Government policy-making and make sure that their voices are heard. 

"Being in North Wales this week has allowed me to see for myself the levelling up investment that is already making a difference and to hear from local leaders and residents on Anglesey about the issues that matter most to them."