OLDHAM Council leader Sean Fielding has slammed the Prime Minister’s £1.6 billion fund for deprived areas as an “insult to the people of the town who have been the victims of Tory cuts for almost 10 years”.

He also described it as a “shameless attempt to bribe Labour MPs to back the Prime Minister’s terrible Brexit deal”.

His comments follow Theresa May’s announcement of The Stronger Town’s Fund which has also drawn broad condemnation from council leaders across Greater Manchester as being a “drop in the ocean” and “too little, late”.

The fund will see £281 million handed out in the North West up to 2026, to help create jobs, train workforces and give local communities a say on how the money is spent.

Its launch comes ahead of Mrs May facing a crunch vote next week on her Brexit deal, and the announcement is said to be a way of gaining the support of MPs in leave-voting areas like Oldham.

Such towns have a "glorious heritage" and a "bright future ahead of them", she said.

But the amount of funding has been dismissed by council leaders across the city region who have seen local government budgets slashed over the last decade.

But Cllr Fielding said: “The share coming to the North West won’t even touch the side here in Oldham where the government has cut £208 million from the council alone since 2010.

“In fact since 2010, Greater Manchester has had £1.7 billion cut from our public services. So the total fund for the entire country is less than the amount they’ve taken from our city region alone.

“This is a shameless attempt to bribe Labour MPs to back the Prime Minister’s terrible Brexit deal. Oldham will not fall for it.”

The Labour leaders have echoed their national party’s reaction to the fund, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell saying it "smacks of desperation from a government reduced to bribing MPs to vote for their damaging flagship Brexit legislation".

And Cllr Brenda Warrington, leader of Tameside Council, said the offer from Westminster "fails to take into account the reality of the current funding crisis in local government".

She added: “While any additional funding for local communities is to be welcomed, we have to see this announcement in the wider context of overall cuts in funding from Government over recent years.

“Tameside’s funding has been cut by over half since 2010. Where once we might have had £1 to spend on services in 2010, in 2019 we now have 40p.

“Once again I call upon the government to call time on austerity and provide fair and sustainable funding. Not just a sticking plaster, but a long-term plan. Not just for the bare minimum of statutory services, but for everything that local government provides.

“I will leave it to others to comment in detail on the timing of this announcement, but I imagine the majority will draw similar conclusions linked to the current national situation regarding Brexit.”

Salford’s Labour mayor Paul Dennett called the move "the height of cynicism" and the fund "a drop in the ocean".

His district has seen more than £200 million taken from its central government grant during the austerity period.

Mr Dennett said: “The Prime Minister has been forced to consider the plight of deprived towns not because of the homelessness crisis, not due to the millions across Britain using food banks, not because the UN found their attitude towards the poor to be callous and cruel.

“She has been forced to consider their plight as a bribe to get her unworkable Brexit deal through Parliament.”

He added: “The city council alone in Salford will have seen £211m taken in reduced central government grant and unfunded budget pressures by the end of this next financial year.

“Our town centres are in desperate need of investment and I sincerely hope this funding isn’t conditional on supporting the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, nor do I hope that this results in further cuts for local government as we enter the next spending review.”