Furness Enterprise boss fears funding diversion

Barrow faces a potential threat to its funding from the major North West cities as resources become increasingly tighter, according to Harry Knowles, chief executive of the business support agency for Barrow.

Knowles, speaking at today's Northern Regeneration Summit in Manchester, addressed a panel compiled to discuss the impact of the credit crunch on regeneration. He asked: "With the shortage of private and public finance around at the moment how do we ensure funding for projects in towns often regarded as marginal such as Barrow do not lose out to the big cities of Manchester and Liverpool which are seen as the priority areas to drive the regional economy."

Responding first from the panel, Prof Michael Parkinson, director of the European Institute for Urban Affairs at Liverpool John Moores University, said: "The big cities are rightly seen as the drivers and it will be difficult for Barrow and other smaller towns as money is tight. The quality of projects is going to be the key to making sure the funding tap is not turned off."

Chris Farrow, chief executive of Central Salford, the urban regeneration company, suggested the Government should invest in developing Barrow as a market leader in wind energy to deliver jobs and distinguish it from other towns.

Tom Bloxham, chairman of Urban Splash, compared Barrow to Morecambe and Bradford where he has developed historic buildings in regeneration areas. He said Barrow could highlight key landmark buildings to renovate as a catalyst for a development programme backed by the public sector.

The Northern Regeneration Summit takes place today and tomorrow. The event includes free workshops on property development, held in the exhibition area.

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