A new regeneration scheme has been launched at a rate of more than one a year over the past 15 years. Each new scheme has done nothing but cut the funds available to inner-city communities and removed control from democratically elected councillors to quangos and joint boards.
The Urban Programme, a mainstay of the worst affected urban areas for more than a generation, has been cancelled by the Government without being replaced. City Challenge, launched in a blaze of glory, has also gone. The capital receipts 'holiday', a temporary measure supposed to cover the loss of the Urban Programme, failed to raise the amounts expected and left the 57 Urban Programme authorities with an average shortfall of pounds 3.7m each.
What this government does not seem to comprehend is that every penny withheld or wasted impacts directly on the poorest in our society. The latest policy, the Single Regeneration Budget, is yet another example of a policy that has the possibility of making a real impact yet, because of the shortsightedness of the Government, has been ludicrously underfunded.
The vision for our cities should be of the European style, similar to the cafe society promoted by the Independent, with attractive environments which support vibrant cultures, in preference to the American model of 'trickle- down' development.
Unless regeneration policies are devised locally and implemented through fair and equal partnerships, then budgets, big or small, will fail to achieve long- term improvement.
MP for Leicester East (Lab)
House of Commons,
The writer is opposition spokesperson on Local Government and Urban Areas.Reuse content