Lottery to give £200m to 'forgotten' communities

Leigh West, in Wigan
Image caption Residents are being given money to improve their communities tackle problems

Fifty "forgotten" areas around England are to be given a share of £200m to help transform their neighbourhoods.

Places from the World's End Estate in London to the former mining town of Selby in Yorkshire, have been named as recipients in the Big Lottery Scheme.

Scheme managers said the areas chosen had been "typically overlooked" by external funders.

The final 50 will join the existing 100 areas already allocated at least £1m in the Big Local initiative.

Anti-social behaviour

The areas have been pinpointed as ones that face a range of different issues, from the decline of industry to high levels of unemployment and crime, or a pressing need for new support services or activities.

The project is the Lottery's largest ever community-led investment programme with the organisers claiming over one million people will benefit.

Residents are urged to come together to develop plans for their £1m, which can be used on anything from training and employment schemes, to tackling anti-social behaviour, creating new community facilities or providing more activities for young people.

Nat Sloane, Big Lottery Fund's England chair, said: "These areas have for many years been overlooked and have missed out on vital funding and resources - they have people who are high on aspiration but until now have been low on opportunity.

"Through our long-term funding, commitment, training and support over at least the next 10 years, we will redress that balance; giving them the power, confidence and ability to spend this funding in the ways that matter most to their community."

'Passion and commitment'

As well as funding for improvements, each area will receive training and support from Local Trust - an organisation set up to help residents spend the funding and increase their skills so they are better able to come together make positive changes in their areas in future.

Debbie Ladds, chief executive at Local Trust, said: "We look forward to helping residents identify what matters most to them and how, with the support of a range of locally trusted organisations and our partners, we can support them over at least 10 years make their areas even better places to live.

"The passion and commitment that residents in existing Big Local areas are showing is inspirational.

"By enabling residents to make decisions and take control of the funding, we believe Big Local can achieve lasting change in their communities."

The 50 areas announced on Monday included the village of Lynemouth, in Northumberland, which has experienced a significant decline in traditional industries such as mining and recently saw over 500 jobs lost through the closure of a factory.

Also chosen was the Bourne estate on the east side of Poole which although located in the same town as upscale Sandbanks, has a large proportion of council, housing association owned and privately rented accommodation, and high levels of anti-social behaviour.

'Great place'

Resident Bob Smith, from the Bourne Valley Action Group, said: "It's going to take a while to get used to being in the millionaires' club.

"The historical image this community has is totally undeserved - this is, I think, a great place to live.

Image caption Farley Hill, in Luton, has been chosen to receive funding

"We need to start generating confidence and self-belief in people."

In Whitley, Reading, the borough council will act as facilitators, to help bring residents and voluntary sector groups together to plan how the money will be spent.

Rachel Eden, Reading Borough Council's lead member for housing and neighbourhoods, said: "I am over the moon about this, it's fantastic news for Whitley.

"I believe this will bring local residents together, make the best use of skills in the neighbourhood and made a lasting difference to Whitley."

Trisha Bennett, a Whitley resident of more than 30 years: "We need a refurbished community centre. The current one has been there since the 1930s and seen a lot of life and excitement, but it really needs updating as it looks tired and old.

"People need somewhere that's a focus for them, allows them to meet people and socialise with friends."

Tang Hall in York will also share in the fund. City of York Labour Councillor Ruth Potter, whose ward includes part of Tang Hall, said the money would make a major difference.

"If people's aspirations are low, if people's opportunities are low, people can't invest in their own personal development," she said.

Bill Haycock, who runs the Beaches cafe in Withernsea, in Yorkshire, believes the town should use the money to improve job opportunities.

He said: "It's a very seasonal town. We can only employ people in the season may be from April to September and that's about it.

"Like my own son and daughter, they both work in Hull. Petrol money that kind of thing - it's just too expensive for them to cope.

"My son's left Withernsea recently, my daughter's going to leave soon. There's nothing around here for them to actually stay."

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