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GUMMER BACKS UK's EC CASH BID FOR LONDON AND SOUTH EAST

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Government proposals for European aid for parts of London and the South East were strongly supported by Environment...
Government proposals for European aid for parts of London and the South East were strongly supported by Environment Secretary John Gummer today.

Mr Gummer, as Minister for London, welcomed Industry Minister Tim Sainsbury's announcement of the areas in the UK which the Government is asking the European Commission to consider for EC Structural Fund grants.

He said: 'Let there be no mistake, the economy of London is strong, it is a good place to do business and it remains one of the world's leading cities for commerce and industry. But there are areas of the capital, and of the south east region, which suffer from high unemployment and industrial dereliction.

'We are taking positive steps to encourage the regeneration of our inner city areas, and we have set out ambitious plans for bringing new development to the East Thames corridor.

'But, these areas also have a strong case for access to the European Structural Funds. If granted, the funds will make a significant contribution to the provision of infrastructure, improvements to the environment and the support of business and vocational training.

'There will need to be close consultation with the European Commission before final decisions are reached. The proposals of all Member States may have to be pruned in order to keep reasonable limits across the EC as a whole. However, I am convinced that the proposals we have put forward are both realistic and justified,' said Mr Gummer.

The chosen areas are the whole of the boroughs of Islington, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney, and parts of the boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Camden, Enfield, Greenwich, Haringey, Havering, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Waltham Forest, Brent, and selected wards in Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea.

Also included are the East Thames Corridor (outside London), parts of Dartford, Gravesham, Rochester-upon-Medway, Gillingham, Swale (all Kent) and Thurrock (Essex). And parts of Brighton & Hove and the whole of the Isle of Wight, parts of Portsmouth and Kent-Thanet travel to work areas (and parts of East Thames Corridor).

The next stage is a period of consultation between the Commission and each member state before the Commission, taking account of national priorities, takes final decisions on which areas will be eligible.

The Commission hopes to reach decisions in November. The new list will apply from January 1994. Following final decisions on the areas, the Government will send regional development plans to the Commission for the areas concerned On the basis of those, Community Support Frameworks will be agree priorities for spending and the funds allocated.

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