HC Deb 23 May 1991 vol 191 cc549-50W
Mr. Patrick Thompson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what resources will be available for local authorities under the urban programme in 1991–92 and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Heseltine

[pursuant to his answer, 29 January 1991, Official Report c.474]: The urban programme is one of many Government programmes which encourage local initiative in urban regeneration. Others include estate action and city grant in my Department, Task Forces in the Department of Trade and Industry and employment and training services supported by the Employment Department.

We now intend to enhance the effectiveness of our expenditure in urban areas in England. We will be bringing together programmes in selected neighbourhoods so as to tackle problems comprehensively and on a significant scale. A new initiative, "city challenge", will achieve this and improve the quality of our cities. Local authorities will be invited to enter into partnerships with their local businesses and their community to draw together imaginative programmes for the regeneration of their areas. I will support those authorities that create the most effective partnerships and prepare the best plans for the neighbourhoods that are critical to the health of their cities.

Under city challenge, I will invite authorities to draw up programmes of action to tackle their key neighbourhoods. I will expect the authorities, in the preparation of these programmes, to draw upon the wealth of talent and expertise which exists in their cities; local people and the voluntary sector, the business and academic communities, the training and enterprise councils, and Government and other statutory agencies. I will expect them to attract private finance and involve the private sector thoroughly in managing the programme. The programmes should each be for a fixed period, normally not more than five years, and must include key targets and deadlines.

I will be making available, from within my existing resources, £75 million in 1992–93 in order to pilot the approach in selected pacemaker authorities. The pacemakers will be chosen through competition. I am writing to the leaders of 15 authorities, listed below, asking them to come forward by 5 July with a bid to become a pacemaker. These authorities have been selected to include a variety of urban problems and opportunities. I then intend, in July, to make a selection of the 10 best proposals to be worked up into detailed action plans for final approval by the end of the year. I have asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key), to oversee the bidding stage. He, the Minister of State for Local Government and Inner Cities or I will be meeting the authorities to discuss their proposals over the next six weeks.

Once the 10 authorities are chosen, the city action team Ministers will oversee the development of each action plan on behalf of the Government. Day-to-day liaison with the authorities will be the responsibility of the city action teams (CATs); they will provide the point of contact for Government and draw in and co-ordinate the programmes of other Departments. Where there is no CAT, I will ask a Minister to oversee the scheme and will consider whether new interdepartmental machinery is needed.

Initial work on pacemakers will be monitored closely and provided the initiative shows signs of success, I intend the first full competition to take place in 1992, for spending to start in 1993–94.

My objective is to see existing programmes pulled together in the most effective way in areas critical to the health of the city. I want to encourage those authorities which have the qualities of leadership and imagination necessary to rejuvenate their priority areas.

Local authorities invited to submit proposals for pilot city challenge programmes

  • Barnsley1
  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Bristol
  • Lewisham
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Middlesbrough
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Salford
  • Sheffield
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Wirral
  • Wolverhampton

1 Invited to work together with Doncaster and Rotherham on a programme for the Dearne Valley. which straddles the areas of the three authorities.