NWDA calls for URCs to better reflect regional plan

The board of the North West Development Agency has urged urban regeneration companies to move closer into line with the economic development agencies in their area.

The latest published minutes of the board of the NWDA, for July's meeting, said: "The board agreed that a priority for the agency should be to foster closer alignment between URCs and sub regional priorities and partnerships."

URCs in the region include West Lakes Renaissance, New East Manchester and Central Salford. URCs are typically sponsored by the NWDA, English Partnerships and the local council and oversee regeneration programmes without offering direct funding or owning land. Each URC must follow the NWDA's economic plan, delivered through so-called sub-regional partners such as Cumbria Vision, Manchester Enterprises and the Mersey Partnership.

Liverpool Vision was the first URC in the country, in 1999, but ceased to be one when it merged with the Liverpool Land Development Company and Business Liverpool in April this year.

Businesses seeking to enlist the public sector's support often complain about the complexity and risk of contradictions with so many quangos in existence.

The NWDA board said councils would become more involved in economic activity following the Government's important sub-national review. The minutes said: "A wider range of special purpose vehicles was likely to emerge as the role of local authorities in economic development increased. The agency would seek to ensure that its own support and investment followed regional economic priorities.

"The board agreed that in the Northwest URCs had been a great success story and they should continue to be carefully targeted to ensure that they remain so."

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