Memorandum by Runcorn Labour Councillors
Group (NT 22)
We are responding to the Urban Affairs Sub-Committee
on the above matter under a current inquiry.
We are concerned as a local minor political
party that is has taken us so long to find out about this inquiry.
All our Party members are activists in our local communities,
but the Local Authority has not seen fit to canvass any views
on this matter.
Many of the estates on the New Town are isolated
with poor transport to outside the area. Public transport ceases
after 1800hrs during the week and is nearly non existent of a
Sunday. Added to this non comprehensive service, the cost of local
travel is very restrictive to people on fixed incomes and low
If one compares the local services in Halton
they are not equal. If comparisons are made, Halton Transport
has a comprehensive bus service in the Widnes area each and every
day, but these services stop running to the New Town area after
Employment opportunities are usually found through
"rip off" agencies, with workers being paid minimum
wages, with minimum conditions of service, not allowing people
to escape the poverty trap. People with well paid employment in
Halton usually live outside the Borough.
External funding such as SRB has not reaped
the results expected and if investigated, it can be seen that
the majority of money has been expended on major capital works
supported by the Local Authority rather than supporting long term
community enterprise initiatives. It can be demonstrated that
many community enterprises do not get any financial support directly
from the Local Authority at all. There are instances where small
community organisations are being charged for being on community
related land by the Local Authority, something that was always
waived by the Development Corporation and Commission for New Towns.
The Local Authority has successfully achieved
three SRB rounds, numbers two, four and five. SRB rounds two and
five have spent huge amounts of money on capital works predominately
in the Runcorn Old Town and Widnes area having little or no effect
on the New Town area.
SRB 4 which was a much smaller budget, has assisted
with employment issues in the New Town area, but successful community
initiatives do not then receive continued support from the statutory
The Local Authority has attempted to engage
with the communities in the New Town through its enforced area
panels. This has not been that successful and unfortunately this
policy has totally ignored many community structures developed
over the New Towns life, which are still successful and recognised
by the communities they serve. These organisations were at the
forefront of supporting this council in its successful attempt
to become a Unitary Authority, but sadly that is yesterday's news.
With regard to employment, may of the industrial
estates that surround the New Town employ people who commute into
the Borough. Travelling outside of the Borough on public transport
is an issue as there is only one river crossing and on occasions
because of road traffic accidents or attempted suicides, the bridge
is closed for hours effecting a persons punctuality and child
care or carers arrangements.
Since the New Town ceased its major house development
and with the introduction of the right to buy, many of the estates
are mixed rented and owner occupied. In fact, some of the smaller
house groupings have virtually no rented stock left. The right
to buy initiatives have left pockets of less desirable properties
in the rented sector. These have a much longer turn over in tendencies
adding to the Housing Management costs, which increases rent demands.
Blocks of rented houses have had to be demolished,
which adds to the inability of younger people acquiring their
own properties. If your income is fixed or you are on a low wage,
you cannot afford high rents and you have not got the ability
to purchase your own property. This leaves people in the poverty
Because of the Local Authority's policy (a one
Party state) of seeing Runcorn as a residential town and Widnes
as the commercial part of the Borough, there is less of an opportunity
for local people in Runcorn acquiring employment because of the
"travel factor" already highlighted previously in this
When the Development Corporation had control
of the lettings policy of the New Town, second generation children
were catered for within those policies allowing for families to
live together giving each other support. Once the five Housing
Associations took over, this was a policy that was and still is
deviated from, which works against sustainable and holistic communities.
Unless there is a change of Council policy,
the investment the Housing Associations are putting into the New
Town area will be a further waste of public funds.
There needs to be a commitment to support local
businesses and community enterprises to employ local people, therefore
supporting the real regeneration of the New Town areas.