HC Deb 21 June 1995 vol 262 cc337-8
6. Mrs. Lait

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment in which main areas in England there has been significant regeneration. [28032]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Sir Paul Beresford)

Our cities and towns are benefiting from more than £1 billion per annum in special regeneration initiatives, on top of national housing, training and education programmes. The special initiatives include urban development corporations, city challenge and the single regeneration budget challenge fund, and are building new partnerships throughout the country. They have stepped in where Labour authorities on their own have frequently failed abysmally.

Mrs. Lait

I am pleased at the success of the regeneration policies, but does my hon. Friend agree that perhaps the time has come to look at other areas in need, such as Hastings? My constituents are aware that the town has high levels of unemployment, criminality, drug, solvent and alcohol abuse as well high levels of child and sex abuse, poor housing and bad roads. Does he agree that it is about time his Department started to recast its policies and moved in the direction of other areas, such as Hastings, which need help?

Sir Paul Beresford

I think that my hon. Friend is already aware that we have moved in the right direction. In fact, Hastings has done so, because it is receiving just under half a million pounds from the round one bid for the challenge fund. My hon. Friend should persuade, if she can, her local Liberal-Labour council to work with the grain rather than against it and launch a decent bid—I hope with success—for the next round.

Mr. Pike

Does the Minister recognise that it does no good to make an unnecessary swipe at Labour councils, as he did a few moments ago? The Burnley initiative, which comprises business, local industry and the community, is working well with the council. Their only comment to the Government would be that they should not have to get money through competition, because the Government should give out money based on need.

Sir Paul Beresford

The hon. Gentleman misses the point. He has obviously not read the newspapers recently; otherwise, he would have noted that a small Labour authority called Monklands is in some trouble. We have in our midst the ex-leaders of Islington and of Sheffield, where there is degeneration rather than regeneration. That is why we must opt for partnerships.

Mr. Jacques Arnold

Was not the Thames gateway one of the most fascinating recent decisions of the Government's regeneration policy together with the choice of Ebbsfleet as the station on the channel tunnel rail link? Does that not augur extremely well for jobs and many other improvements in north-west Kent?

Sir Paul Beresford

My hon. Friend is right. He has obviously noticed that we recently launched the final strategy, which was successfully received with a positive response. Even those one would expect to be critics have joined in praising the venture.

Forward to