Swindon is hoping to scoop up to £25m of funding from Whitehall by the end of the year.

The town was one of 101 selected by the government and invited to bid for money to improve the town and its economy.

The borough council’s Conservative cabinet agreed at its meeting to take up an initial grant of £173,000 to allow it to make a bid by the end of the month.

Before the cabinet agreement, the Town Fund board – made up of members of the council, people from the business and voluntary sectors and parish councils – met.

It is looking at proposals from various projects across the borough and choosing which to put into the formal bid.

But Labour councillors feel they should be more involved.

The group’s leader Jim Grant told the cabinet meeting: “If you look at the wards in the centre of town affected by this, then, with the exception of one councillor in Eastcott, they are represented by Labour councillors, but none are on the board.

“Experience has shown that for these bids to succeed it needs a cross-party approach and community buy-in.”

Leader of the council and chair of the board David Renard did not agree, saying: “The majority of the board is not councillors, it’s members of the business and voluntary sectors. And the projects the money can be used for are not solely in the central area, they can be across the borough.”

His colleague, the cabinet member for the town centre Dale Heenan added: “We’ve been working on this since March and I’ve had suggestions from members, which I welcome. We have to get a bid in by the end of the month, so more delay is not helpful.”

Both councillors expressed their happiness at the announcement that Swindon would be getting between £500,000 and £1m in early money from the fund regardless of the success of the full bid. It was announced as part of the prime minister’s initiative to use infrastructure projects to boost the economy after lockdown.

Coun Renard said the cash would “accelerate plans that will transform our area and help the town to thrive as we move beyond the coronavirus pandemic”.

He added: “I welcome the prime minister’s commitment to invest in infrastructure to unite and level up the country as we come through the coronavirus pandemic.

“The £5bn to bring forward infrastructure projects of all types, from better connected, more modern high streets to new schools and roads, will help to create new jobs and opportunities across Britain, and I will be fighting to ensure our area gets its fair share.”

Coun Heenan was also happy: “Everyone should welcome the extra £500,000 promised for Swindon.

“Regeneration takes time, and the past 18 months has seen a lot of the jigsaw pieces come together. The first office development in over 20 years starts construction this summer, and residents and businesses should look out for lots of announcements over the next six months, which will mean they can visibly see construction continue to transform our town centre.”

Coun Heenan wrote last week to housing, communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick to urge quick decisions on the council’s bid for £25m from the Future High Streets fund and it’s bid to be made for money from the Stronger Towns fund.

He added: “David Renard and I will continue to push for decisions on £50m of government investment in Swindon. The sooner the decisions happen, the sooner visible work can begin.”