Tuesday, 14 October 2008
ANOTHER BID FOR GOVERNMENT FUNDING
So, Planners at Stoke-on-Trent City Council are preparing a bid for a new Government grant, which would enable them to build around 1,000 new homes in areas of most need, according to today’s Sentinel - http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/news/Breaking-News-200m-revamp-plan-rundown-Potteries-estates/article-396701-detail/article.html
Abbey Hulton, Bentilee, Blurton, Chell Heath, Fegg Hayes, Meir and Norton have been picked out for the facelifts, due to limited variety of housing and high levels of deprivation, worklessness and poor health.
Facilities such as play areas, street lighting and community centres will be improved. About 60 per cent of the new houses would be council-owned, with the rest for sale and shared ownership. It seems they will be built on council-owned land that is currently derelict or unused. If the proposal is accepted, the article indicates that building work will start in 2012, to be completed by 2017.
Whilst this is all well and good, it would be very interesting to know what is happening with all the RENEW funding. Having looked at the RENEW website, it says there is £2.3 billion to invest over a 15 year period to “transform the local housing market and make North Staffordshire a place where people want to live, work, and enjoy.”
Now, I know there has been some work done under the RENEW banner throughout the City, including the City Waterside project, but my question is this – what’s happening with all this RENEW funding? And wouldn’t you think that, with £2.3 billion available, more could have been done already? My understanding is that this RENEW funding was granted as part of the Pathfinder project in 2002. Why are the City having to bid again for a new Government grant for housing, when we can’t possibly have spent all of the original Pathfinder money?
Also, why is it always the same places? I know the areas mentioned in the Sentinel article are some of the City’s most deprived, but how much money can you throw at an area and it still be in need of more? Bentilee has had millions ploughed into it over the past few years, and still it needs more, apparently.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Are the council doing a good job of spending this government funding? The City could certainly do with it – new houses will make the area look better and provide better standards of living for people in the area. But all this talk of improved play areas, street lighting and community centres – wasn’t that what RENEW was all about? Let me have your thoughts on this one…