HC Deb 02 December 1987 vol 123 c924
11. Mr. Cran

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received relating to his plans for the establishing of mini urban development corporations; and whether the urban areas such as those on Humberside will be eligible for designation.

Mr. Ridley

I have not yet decided which areas should be designated.

Mr. Cran

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the designation of at least part of Humberside as a mini urban development corporation would go some way towards rejuvenating what is in essence one of the last great estuaries in Europe? Would not his agreement to this go a long way towards establishing the point that the Government are interested in the smaller urban areas, which are equally important as large ones? Does not he further agree that a better decision might be reached if the survey of derelict land was not six years out of date?

Mr. Ridley

I cannot announce any decisions about mini UDCs today, but I can tell my hon. Friend that Hull is receiving £5 million under the urban programme this year. To date 10 urban development grant projects have been approved, leading to a total investment of £16 million. My hon. Friend mentioned derelict land. Humberside should get £2.5 million in derelict land grants during this year. We recognise its problems, and it is getting a good share of the grants that are available.

Mr. Steen

While it is clear that urban development corporations and mini urban development corporations will improve the physical fabric of inner urban areas, does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government need to do more to involve the people living in these areas in the regeneration process? Many of my hon. Friends believe that only by involving the people in helping themselves will the urban environment be regenerated.

Mr. Ridley

I have a great deal in common with my hon. Friend on that point. I agree with him. He will be aware of the other instruments that we are using—CATS, the task forces and the many activities under the urban programme — in support of the policy that he and I support. I invite him to go to one or two of the new urban development corporations to see the extent to which the local people who run those UDCs are involving the local community in their very successful activities.

Mr. Boyes

Is it not a fact that the CBI, at its November conference, warned that the Government's inner-city initiatives would fail if they bypassed local councils? Is it not a fact also that urban development corporations and mini urban development corporations are designed to do exactly that?

Mr. Ridley

I put the problems of inner cities higher than the susceptibilities of councils. It may be necessary to bypass councils where they are the problem rather than the solution, but it is more important to help the areas and the people who live in them than to accept the susceptibilities of councils.