Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by Barbara Follett MP (Stevenage Constituency) (NT 28)

  As the Member of Parliament for Stevenage, which was designated a New Town in 1946, I would like to highlight the following issues.


  Social housing and other facilities, such as neighbourhood centres, public buildings, mains services installations, sewers and paths, were all built at the same time. Therefore, they are all deteriorating at the same rate and much of the infrastructure is in need of replacement or urgent repair.

  This fact has not been taken into account when allocating funding to Stevenage Borough Council because the Standard Spending Assessment does not reflect the unique pressures faced by Stevenage and other New Towns.

  The Government needs to invest capital funds in the first generation New Towns immediately and review the way our SSAs are calculated.


  In its early years, Stevenage suffered a breakdown of the extended family network, as new residents relocated from London. Over the last two decades, this process has continued. Stevenage ranks 49th out of 366 districts for lone parents and has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the Eastern Region. Educational attainment at GCSE level is also low compared to the national and county average. All these factors have contributed to social exclusion in the town.

  More resources are needed for neighbourhood renewal projects, so that programmes can be set up to benefit the whole town, not just individual wards.


  Part of English Partnerships' remit is to ensure the sustainable economic regeneration and development of New Towns. However, it has also had to act in the interests of the Treasury by disposing of its assets at the best price, leaving New Towns stripped of their assets. The disposal policy has also led to multiple ownership, making redevelopment extremely difficult for local authorities.

  I believe that the Government should disengage English Partnerships from New Towns and transfer the property assets to the relevant local authority, preferably free of obligations, or with a clawback arrangement by the Treasury on disposal.

  During the transfer process, a major proportion of the income from sales of English Partnership's assets should be reinvested in New Town regeneration.

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Prepared 16 April 2002