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Urban Regeneration: City Challenge Project

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 23 May 1991

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to further encourage local initiative in urban regeneration.

Many Government programmes already encourage local initiative in urban regeneration. They include the Urban Programme, Estates Action and City Grant in my department, Task Forces in the Department of Trade and Industry and employment and training services supported by the Department of Employment.The Government now intend to enhance the effectiveness of expenditure in urban areas in England by 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. The Government will support those authorities which 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, the Government will invite authorities to draw up programmes of action to tackle their key neighbourhoods. The Government will expect the authorities, in the preparation of these programmes, to draw upon the wealth of talent and expertise which exists in their cities; the business and academic communities, the Training and Enterprise Councils, government and other statutory agencies, the voluntary sector and local people. The Government 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.My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will be making available, from within his existing resources, £75 million in 1992–93 in order to pilot the approach in selected pacemaker authorities. The pacemakers will be chosen through competition. He is writing to the leaders of fifteen authorities, listed below, asking them to come forward by 5th July with a bid to become a pacemaker. These authorities have been selected to include a variety of urban problems and opportunities. He then intends, 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. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for the inner cities, has been asked to oversee the bidding stage. He, the Minister of State for Local Government and Inner Cities, or the Secretary of State for the Environment 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 draw in and co-ordinate the programmes of other departments. Where there is no CAT, the Secretary of State for the Environment 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 intiative shows signs of success, the Government intend the first full competition to take place in 1992, for spending to start in 1993–94.

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