HC Deb 15 June 1999 vol 333 c151
13. Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Canning Town)

What progress has been made to date in the implementation of the new deal for communities. [85791]

The Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning (Mr. Richard Caborn)

Our new deal for communities has given 17 pathfinder partnerships in some of our most deprived neighbourhoods the opportunity to tackle the deep-rooted problems of social exclusion that were left us by the previous Administration. We shall continue to support those community-based partnerships as they develop plans to deliver lasting and sustainable change.

Mr. Fitzpatrick

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. I can confirm the good progress of the pathfinder scheme in the Woodlands estate in West Ham, having discussed the matter with constituents such as Liz Ayres. The London borough of Newham, which is a key partner, is very pleased with the initiative so far. When is the programme likely to be rolled out to other communities?

Mr. Caborn

Of the 17 partnerships, 10 went straight to the first phase of the new deal for communities. They are developing long-term strategies. The other seven were asked to go back and do further work. I hope that we shall be able to make some announcements early next week. From what I have seen, they are all making positive progress. We are considering rolling out a further programme, possibly later this year.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

Has the Minister looked at councils such as Weymouth, which was Labour-controlled until the party lost control at the local elections? The Government have consistently denied funds to areas such as Weymouth, although we have social problems as well, whereas the inner cities get additional central Government funds even though they do not spend up to their standard spending assessment. Surely that is unfair and very stupid, particularly as Labour is losing seats in all the local councils in the south-west and would have lost every seat in the south-west if there had been a general election last Thursday.

Mr. Caborn

Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman distracted attention from the main point of his question about Weymouth, to which he did not do justice. We are dealing with sustainable regeneration by looking at all the pots of money that are available, including the new deal for communities and the single regeneration budget, which was 20 per cent. top-sliced to ensure that it could be targeted on areas outside the inner cities such as the coalfield communities, rural communities and some coastal towns which are suffering genuine deprivation.

The previous Administration left that situation for us to tackle. We are tackling it systematically—[Interruption.] Would the hon. Gentleman like me to answer the question? Each region is introducing strategies to deal with regeneration sustainably.