HC Deb 26 May 2004 vol 421 c1648W
Mr. McGrady

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on progress on neighbourhood renewal; what the timescale is for each stage of the process; and when money will be released for each stage. [175233]

Mr. Spellar

The Department for Social Development launched the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy, "People and Place" in June 2003. The Strategy did not specify detailed implementation arrangements, indicating instead that an engagement process would be undertaken to agree implementation arrangements for Belfast, Derry/Londonderry and Regional Towns and Cities. This exercise is now complete and the findings from these consultation exercises will be published in the near future.

In addition, interim funding arrangements have been put in place from 1 April 2004 to ensure the continuation of over 100 community projects, which are deemed important to the implementation of Neighbourhood Renewal.

To support the Strategy a Ministerial Working Group on Neighbourhood Renewal was established to oversee the implementation of the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy. This group has met on two occasions.

The Ministerial Group has approved the timetable for the establishment of the Neighbourhood Partnership Boards. The Department's aim is to have Neighbourhood Partnership Board, established in the selected areas, by July 2005, with the majority in operation well before this. Funding will be made available to these groups to enable them to develop their Neighbourhood Action Plans. It is the intention of the Department to have all Neighbourhood Action Plans approved by May 2006, again with the majority approved well in advance of this date.

I am also pleased to say that, in March 2004, Department for Social Development launched a scheme under the Neighbourhood Renewal banner, to provide financial assistance to Post Offices in deprived urban areas, which are under the threat of closure.

Forward to