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Minister urges councils to apply for town cash aid

PUBLISHED: 16:39 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:03 23 August 2010

COMMUNITIES SECRETARY: John Denham.

COMMUNITIES SECRETARY: John Denham.

Simon Wright Photography

THE COMMUNITIES Secretary has visited a town to launch a scheme he claims will help councils deliver developments - but will not directly help existing traders. John Denham spoke to the Reporter on Tuesday, the day before his visit to The Bridge estate i

THE COMMUNITIES Secretary has visited a town to launch a scheme he claims will help councils deliver developments - but will not directly help existing traders.

John Denham spoke to the Reporter on Tuesday, the day before his visit to The Bridge estate in Dartford, to unveil the North Kent Multi Area Agreement (MAA).

He said the MAA, which allows councils to negotiate together with the government to secure funding for various projects, would 'cut back on bureaucracy' and speed many developments along.

"Without one of these agreements in place, each council has to negotiate separately with the government to secure funding for development projects.

"It will save time, cuts back on bureaucracy and generally facilitate the process of developments," he said.

When asked why, when economic recovery is the issue, he didn't visit Dartford's deprived town centre, he said that 'local officials decide that sort of thing'. He added: "Like most towns, they want to show off what they have achieved, what they are most proud of. We aren't visiting town centres because this visit is about the whole region, not particular town centres."

We asked what Mr Denham and the government could offer ailing businesses and he replied: "If you are an existing trader, you want more people to have money so they can come in and buy things, and this will help achieve that. At the same time we have made money available to town centre investments and introduced a rate-relief scheme."

He added that it is down to local authorities to make use of empty premises and that the government has issued councils with guidelines on how to do this. He advised traders to visit www.realhelpnow.gov.uk for practical business advice.

What do you think? Write to ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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