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TASK FORCE REPORT WELCOMED BY PRESCOTT

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John Prescott, the environment secretary, welcomed yesterday's report from the urban task force on the regeneration...
John Prescott, the environment secretary, welcomed yesterday's report from the urban task force on the regeneration of British cities, according to The Independent (p3).

He said the kind of cities the task force envisaged would have a much-improved environment and far fewer problem of poverty.

But he was attacked by the Council for the Protection of Rural England for continuing to allow massive greenfield site development.

Tony Burton, of the CPRE, said: 'The task force is being undermined by continuing allocation of greenfield sites for thousands of new houses, and the government's failure to support reduced house-building plans in pressued areas of rural England.'

The paper also compares urban life in Britain (Birmingham) and France (Lyon), where planners are concentrating their efforts not so much on improving the city centre, as on attracting blue-chip companies. One town hall brochure says Lyon wants 'a metropolitan stature comparable to Milan, Barcelona or Birmingham'.

In Birmingham, the city centre has been regenerated, says the paper, but is still surrounded by run-down inner city wards in which poverty is concentrated.

The city council admits it needs more people with jobs, incomes and aspirations to choose to live within the city.

Teresa Stewart, the council leader, said: 'People move to Worcestershire, and then clog up our roads commuting into town. We want to keep them because we want a good mix of people living in the city.'

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