HC Deb 16 July 1992 vol 211 cc1051-2W
Mr. Michael Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, which local authorities have been successful in the city challenge round two competition.

Mr. Howard

My ministerial colleagues and I have carefully considered the 54 bids submitted by local authorities and their partners for the round two city challenge competition. We came to the conclusion that the following local authorities should, with their partners, be invited to prepare five-year action plans to start in April 1993Barnsley, Birmingham, Blackburn, Bolton, Brent, Derby, Hackney, Hartlepool, Kensington and Chelsea, Kirklees, Lambeth, Leicester, Newham, North Tyneside, Sandwell, Sefton, Stockton, Sunderland, Walsall and Wigan.

It is intended that these 20 inner-city areas will, subject to agreement of their individual action plans and satisfactory performance, share £750 million in Government city challenge funding over five years to support major regeneration programmes.

Since city challenge was launched by the then Secretary of State for the Environment in May 1991, it has created an unprecedented partnership between local authorities, businesses and local people. At the same time, it has brought together Government Departments and all the other agencies involved to identify needs and promote opportunity. City challenge confirms the value of competition, already demonstrated in other initiatives such as housing investment programmes and training credits.

Last year, 11 areas were successful in the first—'pacemaker'—round of city challenge. The 20 new winners will be able to draw on this experience and example of the pacemakers whose programmes started last April.

Unsuccessful authorities will naturally be disappointed. But the proposals they have drawn up will provide a focus for future development of their area, and may be used as a basis to make progress through private and public funding of some initiatives.

In the meantime, Government Departments will continue to co-operate with all inner-city local authorities and other interested parties to assist urban renewal efforts. These areas will continue to be eligible for support from the range of targeted programmes including city grant, derelict land grant and estate action. Outside London, most inner-city areas are also eligible for regional enterprise grants for innovation.

Alongside city challenge this year, we also invited local authorities to make a case for an inner-city task force. We received 15 bids. Most of the bids identified areas of high deprivation which task forces are intended to address.

I am announcing today the opening of new task forces in Birmingham, Haringey, Plymouth and Stockton. Two of these, Birmingham and Stockton, will link with new city challenge areas to reinforce those initiatives directed at disadvantaged local residents. But two of the strongest cases came from areas which were not successful in city challenge round two. I believe that task forces in Haringey and Plymouth will of themselves be able to achieve significant benefits for local people.

The task force initiative is a rolling programme and we will in the course of the coining months be closing the task forces in Bristol, Coventry, Middlesbrough and west London whose work is nearing completion.