HC Deb 04 June 1996 vol 278 cc395-6
12. Mr. Patrick Thompson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about his plans for further rounds of the single regeneration budget challenge fund. [29783]

Mr. Curry

Bidding guidance for the third round of the single regeneration budget was published on 29 March, and the deadline for outline bids is this Friday.

Mr. Thompson

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government are providing more than £2 million over four years to assist a scheme to revitalise the Mile Cross area of my constituency, providing extra jobs, extra training and many improvements to housing? Will he also confirm that he is monitoring carefully how the money is spent? Is he surprised that Labour-controlled Norwich city council rarely, if ever, gives any credit to the Government for this type of assistance?

Mr. Curry

My hon. Friend is correct. He is referring to one of the very first single regeneration budget schemes. The city council is heavily involved in that scheme, which is revitalising an area of inter-war housing and involves £2.2 million and a further £7 million of public sector funds. The total spend will be more than £22 million. That is substance; it is delivering regeneration and other benefits on the ground—it is not merely presentation, as the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) appears to believe. Norwich city council is pleased with the scheme, and I am glad that it is now co-operating fully, as it should. We shall keep an eye on the situation.

Mr. Garrett

Regardless of this particular scheme, is not the Minister aware that Norwich has suffered most grievously under this Government? It has faced massive cuts in allowable expenditure, it has had to sack people and close valuable recreational and other facilities, and it now faces a further cut of some £3 million. Does not the scheme about which the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) is boasting pale into insignificance when viewed against the long-term damage done by this Government to public services in Norwich?

Mr. Curry

If the hon. Gentleman believes that the way to achieve economic revitalisation is to allow a council to continue as one of the most extravagant over-spending councils in the country, he will no doubt wish to stick with Norwich council. If, however, he wants to use local authority, Government and private sector money creatively and effectively for real regeneration, he can deliver it through the sort of scheme from which Norwich is now benefiting. Such schemes offer a much higher quality of spend and have the advantage of pulling in significant amounts of private sector investment, which would not be the case in a scheme run solely by the local authority.

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