Coalfield Communities: a follow-up (HC 457-I)
ODPM Committee 21 Mar 2004
Evidence given by Councillor Bill Flanagan, National Chair, and Professor Steve Fothergill, Director, Coalfield Communities Campaign; Trevor Beattie, Corporate Strategy Director, and Rob Pearson, Head of National Programmes, English Partnerships; Yvette Cooper MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Q1 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Hello gentlemen, welcome back again to this follow-up inquiry to the coalfield communities inquiry we did last year. First of all, perhaps you would like to identify yourselves for the purposes of the record.
Councillor Flanagan: I am Bill Flanagan, Councillor in Chesterfield but for today's events I am the Chair of the Coalfield Communities Campaign.
Professor Fothergill: I am Steve Fothergill, National Director of the CCC.
Q2 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Do either of you want to say anything by way of introduction or are you happy to go straight into questions?
Councillor Flanagan: I do not. It does not seem so long since we gave evidence; it was just 12 months.
Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Okay.
Q10 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): What numbers do you allocate to those percentages?
Professor Fothergill: In England and Wales there are still about 90,000 jobs for men to be replaced. That is set against a total job loss since the early 1980s in England and Wales in the coal industry of about 220,000, but it is also worth bearing in mind that those same areas also had 150,000-160,000 unemployed people even before the pit closures started, so the task was always a little bit more than just compensating for the jobs going in the coal industry.
Q37 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. Would you like to identify yourselves for the purposes of the record please.
Mr Beattie: Good afternoon. My name is Trevor Beattie and I am Corporate Strategy Director for English Partnerships, which includes responsibility for our national programmes, one of the most important of which is the coalfields.
Mr Pearson: I am Robert Pearson, Head of National Programmes which includes the coalfields, urban regeneration companies, millennium communities and land stabilisation.
Q38 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Do either of you want to say anything by way of introduction or are you happy to go straight into questions?
Mr Beattie: If I could say just a few introductory words, Chairman. The main thing I want to say at the outset is to offer the apologies of Margaret Ford, our Chairman, who is unable to attend today because of urgent and unavoidable family health issues. She had intended to be here right up until the last minute. I know she wanted to come to stress particularly the importance of the Coalfields Programme to English Partnerships and the Board's absolute and continuing commitment to that programme. You probably are well aware that English Partnerships has a great number of initiatives it is progressing at present but the coalfields remain one of our top strategic priorities amongst all of that increased activity. It is fundamental to our corporate plan process. 80 per cent of our brownfield land outputs this year and last year derive from the Coalfields Programme, so we need the Coalfields Programme for the delivery of our mainstream activity. The momentum of the programme has increased significantly since we last gave evidence about a year and a quarter ago and that is in no small part due to the really significant co-operation with the regional development agencies on the ground.
Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Thank you.
Q57 Andrew Bennett: It is going to be pretty slow to get to your target of 42,000 jobs created?
Mr Pearson: 42,000. What we have said previously is that job creation will obviously go on beyond the completion of the sites themselves. It is the process of outputs following the main works to open up the sites.
Q58 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): How many jobs per annum? What is the rate of increase per annum in working?
Mr Pearson: In the last 15 months since we reported to you we have provided a further 5,300 jobs on sites.
Mr Beattie: And that is compared to 8,500 jobs in the first seven years of the programme, so you can see the acceleration there.
Q59 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): How long will it take us to mop up the 90,000 jobs we were told still needed to be mopped up?
Mr Pearson: The programme is aiming for 42,000 jobs and we see that being achieved by 2012, although I would certainly like to think that the gradient of the graph will increase in the way it seems to be going at present.
Q67 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): We did, yes. Just before we close the session can I clarify the figures you gave us? You say your target was to create 42,000 jobs by 2012.
Mr Pearson: Yes.
Q68 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): You have reported to us today that you have created 13,800.
Mr Pearson: Yes, to date.
Q69 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): So your target is to create 4,000 jobs a year for the next seven years?
Mr Pearson: Yes.
Mr Beattie: Except it will not be an even spread of 4,000. The graph moves steeply upwards. Those job creation outputs will be heavily weighted towards the later years in the programme.
Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Thank you for your evidence.
Q70 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Welcome, Minister, to the follow-up session on our Coalfields Community inquiry. Can I ask you to identify yourself for the purpose of the record?
Yvette Cooper: Yvette Cooper, Minister for Housing and Regeneration.
Q71 Mr. David Clelland (Chairman): Is there anything you wish to say by way of introduction or do you want to go straight to questions?
Yvette Cooper: We can go straight to the questions. You have obviously had all the facts from the department about the progress on the coalfield regeneration and the English Partnerships programme.
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.
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