Coastal towns and coalfields share £1.2bn aid

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The Independent Online

Coastal towns, coalfields and inner cities in the North will share £1.2bn in regeneration aid for England's most deprived areas, the Government announced yesterday.

Coastal towns, coalfields and inner cities in the North will share £1.2bn in regeneration aid for England's most deprived areas, the Government announced yesterday.

Hilary Armstrong, the minister for Local Government and the Regions, revealed that nearly 200 towns would receive the cash made available by the Chancellor's spending review.

Ms Armstrong said that she hoped the new single regeneration budget grants would attract a further £2.4bn from the private sector and the European Union.

The money, which will be administered by regional development agencies, directs aid to those areas hit by a decline in manufacturing and traditional heavy industry. The biggest single grant, of £80m, is to go to boost the economy of the former South Yorkshire coalfields area, including Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

Coastal areas share £172m for improvements. Cities qualifying for grants include Liverpool, Birmingham and Hull.

Many of the schemes that bid successfully for funding will focus on tackling crime and unemployment. A £300m boost for London was announced last week by the Mayor, Ken Livingstone.

Ms Armstrong said the £1.2bn of government investment would help lever a further £1.9bn from the private sector and £2.5bn from other public sector programmes and European funds. "This investment will make a visible difference to the lives of people living in deprived areas, making communities safer, improving housing and enhancing skills up and down the country," she said.

Alex Stephenson, head of the group of regional development authority chairmen, said: "I welcome this announcement and the prospect of helping to create a better quality of life for people in disadvantaged communities throughout England."

Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent will each get £40m; Blackpool is to receive £20m to boost tourism; and Bradford, Durham, Bolton, Burnley, Hull, Oldham, Preston, South Sefton, Wirral and Sandwell also each get £20m in aid.

The Tory urban regeneration spokesman, Tim Loughton, said the announcement was "yet another mirage in Labour's summer of spin. The fact is that expenditure on urban regeneration has been lower in this parliament than in the last."

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