Letter: 'Tower block ghettoes': a coherent housing policy is the only answer

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Prime Minister has said that he is determined to improve the inner cities ("Major blames tower block 'ghettoes' ", 27 April).

The reality is that we have had 29 government inner-city schemes in the past 16 years, but all have resulted in an inner-city strategy that is neither coherent or constructive.

Mr Major has forgotten that, only a few months ago, this Government's own urban policy evaluator, Professor Brian Robson of Manchester University, in his landmark report Assessing the Impact of Urban Policy, warned the Government of failing to target billions of pounds adequately.

In the past two years alone, the Urban Programme, one of the most important vehicles in inner-city revitalisation, has been abolished. City Challenge initiatives have also begun their exit strategies. Its replacement, the Single Regeneration Budget, provides less funding and hundreds of losers in comparison to a handful of winners. The private sector is heartily sick of the constant shift in government policy and wants to be able to plan on a long-term basis.

Labour's solution to this mess requires that government gives a clear strategy to ensure that communities are empowered to decide on their own future and to enable the private sector to be involved in a meaningful and substantial way. This is the only way that inner-city areas are going to be reclaimed for the people who wish to work and live in them.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Leicester East (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

27 April

The writer is Shadow Minister, Planning and Regeneration.