§ Alun Michael
The Rural White Paper stated that £37 million over three years (2001–04) would be made available to fund regeneration in market towns. This funding has been delivered through
- (a) the Regional Development Agencies (£32 million) and matched with funding from partners; and
- (b) the Countryside Agency (£5 million) for work on Health Checks for individual Towns, the Beacon Towns Network, and the Best Practice Programme.
When the announcement of the funding was made, it was envisaged that 100 towns would benefit from this funding. I am pleased to report that, through the innovative methods used in each of the regions, currently 227 towns are receiving support.
Future funding is being reviewed as part of the Modernising Rural Delivery process. At the same time Defra is working with the Countryside Agency to assess the outcomes from the initiative, with a report due in June, and are in discussion with the Regional Development Agencies on evaluation of the initiative in the regions.