How Aston Millions Went Unused for Regeneration
Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Correspondent
A flagship Government regeneration scheme failed to spend a third of its budget in the West Midlands last year, it was revealed yesterday.
Despite being allocated pounds 22.35 million, projects in the region managed to spend only pounds 14.78 million.
The figures were revealed in a critical report by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on its own New Deal for Communities programme.
It comes as MPs across the region are campaigning for a fairer deal for the West Midlands in education and transport spending.
The New Deal for Communities scheme is supposed to revive run-down inner cities by reducing crime, improving standards of health and education, and helping residents find work.
Projects are running in Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Wolverhampton, and Aston and Kings Norton in Birmingham. The national evaluation for 2002-2003, published yesterday, showed that only 40 per cent of Aston residents had heard of the scheme -and fewer than 25 per cent of those people believed it had improved the area. Less than 25 per cent of Coventry residents had heard of the scheme, and only 25 per cent of them believed it was helping.
In some other parts of the region, awareness of the policy was much higher. In Walsall, 60 per cent of those surveyed said they had heard of it, but less than 20 per cent believed it had made a difference.
In Kings Norton, 75 per cent of residents had heard of the programme and 40 per cent believed it had improved their area. …