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Deputy prime minister John Prescott, speaking at a Labour Party press conference yesterday, said: 'As Tony and Gord...
Deputy prime minister John Prescott, speaking at a Labour Party press conference yesterday, said: 'As Tony and Gordon have said, the economy is central to this campaign because it is central to the future success of our country.

'I want to focus on the role our great regional cities have played, and will continue to play in the development of Britain as a high-tech, high-wage, low unemployment knowledge-based economy.

'In the 80s, many of Britain's cities were in decline.

'Populations were falling, local economies were struggling, public services failing, crime and anti-social behaviour and lack of investment in the local environment turned inner city estates into no go zones.

'There are still huge challenges today.

'But go to any of the big cities in Britain today and you cannot fail to notice the steady transformation that is taking place, and the confidence that brings to the regions of our country.

'Labour's£38 billion Sustainable Communities programme is central to that transformation- helping all our areas, urban and rural, to build communities that are cleaner, greener and safer.

'On Saturday we launched our rural manifesto.

'Today we celebrate our core cities outside of London - Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-Gateshead, Nottingham and Sheffield - and our wider urban areas, which do so much in every region to sustain our national economy.

'Spectacular buildings, cultural centres, new city-centre retail developments, major public and private investment in civic squares, parks, waterfronts and canals can be seen across the country.

'Cities where unemployment is down, crime is down, schools results are up and investment in housing and the local environment is up.

'And the credit for this transformation in our cities goes to the people and businesses, local authorities and agencies that have helped bring it about.

'Our Regional Assemblies working with our Regional Development Agencies.

'And inter-regional working, as with the Northern Way.

'In England there are 21 Urban Regeneration Companies, working with local authorities and local strategic partnerships, promoting enterprise and attracting inward investment.

'And our New Deal for Communities and Neighbourhood Renewal Funds -£4 billion, to transform our most deprived areas.

'A doubling of our housing investment to£6 billion by 2008, this tremendous increase bought about by public-private partnership.

'All of this possible because of the economic stability the government has delivered, and because of the scale of our commitment to making sure all parts of the country share in rising prosperity.

'The document we publish today, 'Strong economy, Great cities', gives many examples of this.

'We focus on the 8 'core' cities in England, plus Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Cardiff.

'We set out why the people of those cities should be proud of what they have achieved.

'If people value urban renaissance in their cities and towns they should vote Labour on May 5th.'

* Full details here.

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