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Lord Richard Rogers
"There's not enough speed and we're not going far enough"
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Housing minister Nick Raynsford
"We are determined to proceed with an agenda of urban regeneration"
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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Rogers: Put cities first

Report suggests 200 ways to improve inner cities
Architect Lord Rogers has called on the government to give urban regeneration the same priority as health and education.

Lord Rogers chaired the government's Urban Task Force, created by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to find solutions to the problems of inner-city decline and development pressure on the countryside.

Its report was published a year ago, but so far only a handful of its 106 recommendations to improve cities like Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastlehave been put into practice.

Lord Rogers: Tackle urban poverty
Lord Rogers told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there had been too little effort across Whitehall.

He said: "We would like to have had urban resource centres set up - we would have liked to have had more funding.

"I have to say that whereas John Prescott (the Deputy Prime Minister) I think is doing his best, there is no real realisation of the problems across the departments.

"We are calling on the Prime Minister to say it is cross-departmental.

Lord Rogers said there was "no point putting funding into hospitals and education if people are leaving the area".

"You can't separate the social and the physical - urban poverty goes together with social exclusion."

He said he wanted to see greater emphasis on training people living in inner city areas.

"We do live in some of the worst cities in Europe and unfortunately we really are at the bottom of the ladder, even though we are very wealthy," he added.

City focus

In its report, entitled Towards An Urban Renaissance, the task force had suggested:

  • reducing value added tax (VAT) on brownfield building from 17% to zero to bring it into line with greenfield sites

  • persuading the Ministry of Defence, Department of Transport, health authorities and other government agencies to release hundreds of acres of unused urban land

  • establishing a Renaissance Fund with a 500m war chest to spend on urban developments

  • creating Home Zones, where pedestrians have the right of way over cars and lorries.

Housing Minister Nick Raynsford defended the government's record, saying that Lord Rogers' report required co-ordinated action by several departments.

The government had been studying the report and would put forward its response in an urban white paper, Mr Raynsford told the Today programme.

He said: "I think that Lord Rogers is being a little bit unfair because some of the recommendations have been implemented."

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