Urban Development Corporations

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1989.

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Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley 12:00 am, 24th May 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of each urban development corporation's budget in both 1988–89 and 1989–90 is allocated for community projects and voluntary sector initiatives.

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

The percentages of UDC budgets allocated for community projects and voluntary sector initiatives for each of the years specified are as follows:

1988–891989–90
Black Country1·31·8
Bristol01·0
Central Manchester1·41·6
Leeds0·90·1
London docklands3·36·5
Merseyside4·53·1
Sheffield0·40·7
Teesside2·40·3
Trafford Park0·10·3
Tyne and Wear0·30·9

Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley

Obviously the figures are not as high as we should like them to be, and we are disappointed. Does the Minister agree that it is essential that priority should be given to community projects, such as sports, open space parks and social housing? What advice is he giving to the chairmen of the UDCs to discuss these issues with the local authorities and the voluntary sector, both of which have vast experience of these matters?

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

I certainly have no quarrel with the last point that the hon. Gentleman made. Sheffield development corporation is anxious to work with the local authority. As the hon. Gentleman knows, a number of local councillors are on the board. Among the initiatives supported by the development corporation are ethnic minority, social, educational and recreational projects, which is impressive. There are statutory responsibilities of Sheffield city council that have not passed to the urban development corporation. Those powers are retained by the city council. I cannot believe that the hon. Gentleman would wish us to transfer those powers to the UDC.

Photo of Mr Irvine Patnick Mr Irvine Patnick , Sheffield, Hallam

I thank my hon. Friend for the answer that he gave to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Michie) who, as a former Sheffield city councillor, will probably recollect that the powers are there. The local authority has power to do such things. Various leaders of Sheffield city council are members of the UDC and I am sure that the two bodies talk to each other. Furthermore, Sheffield city council is the planning authority or assists with planning for the development corporation.

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

Indeed. We have an agreement with Sheffield development corporation and the city council that the council should be the agency for planning. That is a step forward. I detected in the substantive question on the Order Paper some antagonism. Contrary to what I expected, the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Michie) was not antagonistic in his supplementary—in stark contrast to his contributions in the past.

Photo of George Howarth George Howarth , Knowsley North

I welcome the revitalisation work that is being carried out on the waterfront in Liverpool and the work of the Merseyside development corporation. The Minister will be aware of the widespread concern because some of the voluntary sector and community initiatives that are desperately needed in the area have not got off the ground. Will the Minister give continued attention to trying to find ways of using resources to benefit the local people rather than just tourists and businesses?

Photo of Mr David Trippier Mr David Trippier , Rossendale and Darwen

I shall consider the point that the hon. Gentleman has raised. The main point is that a development corporation should not in any way supplant work that could be done by a borough council or, as in Liverpool, a city council. I recognise that development corporations can in some cases act as a catalyst. There is a good example in the Merseyside development corporation with regard to training and the support that it gives to Merseyside Education Training Enterprise Limited.