02/06/2006 - Interesting news from Birmingham Pathfinder
The question being was this in response to public feeling, or because not enough has been demolished? :
Inside Housing: Government withdraws funding from pathfinder
The government has stopped funding Birmingham Sandwell's market renewal pathfinder following serious concerns about its performance on the ground.
Inside Housing understands that Urban Living has been given up to six months to agree an improvement plan after a damning Audit Commission draft report on its progress.
The government has confirmed that it will not provide any more funding for the project until the negotiations on improvements are complete.
In the meantime, Birmingham and Sandwell councils have agreed to provide the cash to keep projects ticking over while talks are completed.
A source close to the pathfinder told Inside Housing negotiations could continue for several months. The problems were mainly to do with delivery, he said. 'The strategy is OK, it is the programme that is the issue.'
The most recent figures show that of 1,524 refurbishments planned by March 2006, the pathfinder had completed 128 by September 2005, less than 10 per cent. Over the same period it had completed less than a third of its planned demolitions, just 154 out of 553, and built 47 new homes, compared with the 154 that had been planned.
John Edwards, lead member for scrutiny at Sandwell Council, said the authority planned to review the pathfinder's progress. 'We want to look at where Urban Living is heading against the job it was planned to do when it was launched,' he said.
A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed the councils are currently supporting the programme.
But any funding agreement with the pathfinder would be retrospective, he said. 'In the meantime the local authorities are continuing to fund the pathfinder in terms of projects in the anticipation of future grant payments.'
No decision had been taken yet on how much funding the pathfinder would receive, he added.
A spokesperson for the pathfinder said it did not want to talk about the situation until there was an announcement from the government.
Urban Living's new chair David Seviour has admitted that the Audit Commission's review was 'reasonably critical' (Inside Housing, 7 April).
The most recent figures demonstrated that Manchester's pathfinder had refurbished and demolished the most properties, 7,814 and 915 respectively.