COLCHESTER’S bid to secure £25million in Government funding has been labelled a “lost opportunity” by the town’s former MP.

Sir Bob Russell, who now has the honorary role of Colchester High Steward, has criticised the We Are Colchester partnership’s bid to secure the cash from the Government’s Towns Fund.

He told the council’s cabinet the bid didn’t stand out from the crowd and ignored Colchester’s unique selling point - its heritage and tourism potential.

Sir Bob said: “I would like to thank everyone involved, particularly those who have voluntarily given of their time. I hope the bid is successful.

“However, having read the report to cabinet, it represents a lost opportunity - a once in a generation opportunity as it has been described in the Gazette. Colchester’s unique selling point is its heritage and tourism potential. They barely get a mention.

“Somehow I think York and Chester would have had a different approach if they had been asked to bid for £25million.”

Read more >>> ‘£25m Town Deal bid a once in a generation opportunity for Colchester’

Sir Bob said focusing on the town’s heritage assets, such as the only Roman Circus in Britain, would have helped the bid stand out.

“Identifying the promotion and development of the Roman Circus as a national tourist attraction would immediately make a big difference in showing the judges, who will look at 100 applications, Colchester is different to all the clone town applications from others,” he said.

“Colchester’s application is a clone town approach – any town, anywhere. There is nothing in the report which jumps out and highlights Colchester’s unique characteristics.”

Read more >>> Detailed plans for Colchester's £25m Town Deal bid revealed

Culture boss Julie Young told the meeting the authority was in dialogue with Colchester Archaeological Trust over the Roman Circus and was looking to develop a scheme in the future.

The We Are Colchester partnership is putting the final touches to its Town Deal bid this month.

It is hoped the £25million funding will unlock about £100million investment in things like youth services, digital connectivity and public realm in the town centre.

Funding could revive Holy Trinity Church and help create a scheme for Jumbo.