AWM budget cuts to hit 121 regeneration schemes
Oct 8 2010 By Graeme Brown
Key projects such as West Bromwich town centre, Edgbaston cricket ground and Ansty Park are among those targeted by spending cuts which have hit the regeneration of the West Midlands.
The schemes are among 121 to be cut back or axed by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands (AWM) after it was told by the coalition Government to find £37.1 million worth of savings from its 2010/11 budget.
The All Saints development in West Bromwich took the biggest single hit – £7.4 million – while advice service Business Link sees £5.2 million of its funding wiped out. A further £4.3 million has been saved by scrapping a grant for the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).
The cuts – which account for almost 15 per cent of AWM’s £250 million budget for the next financial year – come ahead of the Government’s spending review later this month which could herald even more bad news for the region.
However, other crucial developments have been unnaffected by the cuts, including the £24.4 million investment in Birmingham New Street and the £17.3 million going towards the Manufacturing Technology Centre at Ansty Park.
A total of 11 schemes were scrapped altogether, with the AHDB creating the biggest saving along with £1.15 million from scrapping the Advantage Growth Equity Fund.
Mick Laverty, chief executive at AWM, said: “The collective efforts of our agency staff and our partners have delivered all the savings that the Government asked of us.
“The scale and pace of the cuts required meant that inevitably some difficult and unpopular decisions had to be made.
“Our joint focus has always been to safeguard priority projects – the ones that create most jobs and the greatest growth and support the most competitive businesses across the West Midlands.
“The Government intends to abolish RDAs at the end of March 2012 and is putting in place new economic delivery bodies such as Local Enterprise Partnerships.
“We still have a significant portfolio of project investments and assets that may transfer to successor bodies. We are awaiting Government clarification on this and a range of other matters.
“In the meantime, we are doing our utmost to ensure a smooth transition to the new arrangements. Our main task remains to support economic recovery and future growth through the effective delivery of our remaining projects.”
Tim Gebbels, corporate director for strategy and skills at AWM, said the agency set out criteria to establish which schemes to commit to, including those with the highest possible economic benefit, and those which were deliverable within the timeframe – as schemes which go on past 2012 would be out of its control.