HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 cc810-1W
Mr. Clifton-Brown

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the aims are of the Braunstone Community Association, Leicestershire New Deal regeneration project; what the estimated cost is; for what period it will run; for what reason his Department has sent in departmental auditors; how long the investigation will take; and when the result will be published. [36960]

Ms Keeble

The New Deal for Communities (NDC) programme addresses local regeneration needs by putting residents at the heart of processes to develop community led solutions. In 1998 Braunstone in Leicester was one of 17 areas selected to be a round 1 NDC pathfinder. Braunstone is the most deprived ward in the East Midlands on the National Index of Local Deprivation.

The Braunstone Community Association (BCA) was formed as a company limited by guarantee to deliver the NDC programme. A majority of the BCA Board is made up of residents who have been elected through a democratic process. Following community consultation, the BCA produced a Braunstone NDC delivery plan, which identified key issues affecting Braunstone. The delivery plan sets out a vision centred around the five cornerstones of regeneration: work, crime, health, education and the physical environment. On the strength of the delivery plan, the BCA was allocated NDC funding of up to £49.5 million for the regeneration of Braunstone over at least seven years.

The Braunstone NDC programme is now in its second year of project delivery. It has already implemented a range of projects and initiatives to begin to tackle some of the key issues affecting Braunstone, with further projects under development. Over half of the people employed by the BCA in delivering the NDC Programme are local residents.

In November 2001 the BCA Board established an Independent Investigation Panel to examine various stories appearing in the local press that related to its internal relationships. The BCA Board considered the report of investigation panel at its meetings on 20 December 2001 and 7 January 2002. As a result, the BCA has adopted various resolutions to improve processes and partnership working.

In view of the nature of some of the unsubstantiated allegations the Government Office for the East Midlands (GOEM) commissioned an audit of the Braunstone NDC Programme by a Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) audit team. The audit team expects to report to GOEM early in March. It is not customary to publish findings of internal audits.

The audit findings, together with evidence arising from the findings of the independent investigation, will allow the Government Office to decide what further steps it needs to take in order to secure the future of the Braunstone NDC Programme.