Gummer seeks aid for towns

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The Independent Online
JOHN GUMMER, the Environment Secretary, yesterday called for a greater commitment from banks, building societies and insurance companies to the regeneration of Britain's town centres.

Launching a DoE report at Cities '94, an urban management conference in London's Docklands, he warned that unless the private sector came up with funds to improve town centres, property owners might be forced to contribute to the local environment.

A similar system operates in parts of the US, where property owners pay a levy to cover their local security, promotion and town centre facilities.

Mr Gummer said that cities faced a choice between the US model, where retailing had been sucked out of urban centres, and the European example, where good public transport and attractive streets had kept town centres popular.

Financial institutions had considerable investments at stake, he said, but tended to play a reactive role. 'They are in a good position to contribute positively if the topic were given serious attention at top management level.'

The report calls on local authorities, property owners and retailers to draw up 'town profiles', visions of where a town should be going and means of achieving these goals.

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