Inner cities are forgotten in Brown's give-away, says Rogers

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The Independent Online

Lord Rogers of Riverside, New Labour's favourite architect, accused Gordon Brown last night of failing to offer enough cash to tackle the population flight from Britain's inner cities.

Lord Rogers of Riverside, New Labour's favourite architect, accused Gordon Brown last night of failing to offer enough cash to tackle the population flight from Britain's inner cities.

The peer, who chaired John Prescott's Urban Task Force and designed the Millennium Dome, said the Chancellor had not met the needs of the country's underclass despite his claims to be tackling poverty.

Coming just one day after Mr Brown's Comprehensive Spending Review, his remarks will upset ministers who believed the package offered real help to those in most need.

Lord Rogers said that while he welcomed some of Mr Brown's measures to reduce poverty and deprivation, he had still refused to tackle urban decline specifically.

The architect, who has joined Ken Livingstone's mayoral team in London, said the Government should move "further and faster" on regeneration of the poorest areas. Mr Brown had signally failed to tackle the problem of people leaving run-down city centres for the suburbs and rural areas, putting pressure on the environment.

More than 1,700 people a week are leaving cities for country towns and villages and whole streets in northern cities are emptying as people seek work in the South, piling building pressure on the South-east.

"While the Government has given some hope to our deprived urban centres with a tangible package of measures that will impact on urban decline, there is a long way to go before the needs of the urban underclass are given due recognition," Lord Rogers said. "I welcome the dedicated section on rural development in the Chancellor's report, but it is disappointing that there is no corresponding section on reversing urban decline."

The peer said the spending increase of £2.9bn on housing and the regions over the next four years and the new Neighbourhood Renewal Fund were positive movements. "However, to reverse the urban exodus, the Government needs to take on a far greater number of the Urban Task Force recommendations, by providing fundsfor land assembly, money for the management and improvement of the urban environment and cleaning contaminated land," he said.

It was "disappointing that so much more has not been done," Lord Rogers added. "When the dust has settled on this announcement, the key to achieving urban renaissance will remain the implementation of our proposals as a consistent whole."

None of the key recommendations of the Urban Task Force, which presented its report in June 1999, has yet been implemented. Among the proposals it suggested were subsidised insurance premiums in high-crime inner city areas. It also said the release of some greenfield land already earmarked for development should be halted to promote the regeneration of the cities.

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