Transport minister signals change of focus with review of £100m regeneration initiative

The government is scaling back deputy prime minister John Prescott’s regeneration masterplan for the north of England.

Transport minister Gillian Merron told the House of Commons two weeks ago that the government was reviewing the £100m Northern Way initiative, designed by Prescott to create a growth corridor linking the region’s major conurbations.

She said: “The Department for Communities and Local Government, the Treasury and the DTI are working with the Northern Way to reinvigorate its work and focus more clearly on a smaller number of key priorities.”

Ruth Kelly, who took over responsibility for regeneration from Prescott in the May Cabinet reshuffle, is reviewing the sustainable communities plan that she inherited. She has already scrapped next year’s sustainable communities summit.

We are working to reinvigorate the Northern Way

Gillian Merron

Richard Kemp, the Local Government Association’s vice chairman, said: “This is part of a general reassessment of what the DCLG is doing.”

Greg Stone, an associate at regeneration consultancy Beyond Green, said: “The Northern Way was very much John Prescott’s big idea and now that he’s gone there has been a change of focus at the DCLG.”

He said that Kelly was focusing the government’s regeneration efforts around city regions, such as Birmingham and Manchester.

Dermot Finch, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Research’s Centre for Cities, called for the government to concentrate its efforts on improving links between Leeds and Manchester.