North West projects hit by £52m funding withdrawal

More than 100 projects across the north west of England have been hit by a £52m cut in the regional development agency's (RDA) budget.

Blackpool's regeneration, Manchester's international festival and theatres in Liverpool are among the 101 projects told they will not receive funding.

The North West Development Agency (NWDA) said it had now essentially "closed for new business".

The government revealed it was scrapping the nine RDAs last month.

Instead, it proposes a £1bn Regional Growth Fund which will distribute grants through Local Enterprise Partnerships.

All nine RDAs have been told to make budget cuts for the current financial year, and will be wound-up in 2012.

Steve Broomhead, NWDA chief executive, said all non-contracted projects had been cut, as well as the agency's own administration costs.

"But we now need to re-examine all existing projects and programmes to identify where further savings can be made," he added.

"We will use all available flexibility to try to meet these challenging reductions but the reality is that this is a substantial reduction to our in-year budget and there is bound to be an economic impact on the partners, businesses and communities with whom we work.

"In addition, the size of the cuts means that we have little flexibility in our future budgets and the agency will not be able to make any new investments or renew partner contracts before our dissolution in April 2012.

"I recognise that this is a very difficult time for both our partners and our staff across the region and I sincerely hope that many of these projects and partners will be able to find alternative sources of funding and will continue to support the growth of the North West economy for the years to come."

As well as the dozens of projects and concepts, more than 30 organisations - including regeneration agencies - have had their funding withdrawn.

Projects on which contracts have already been signed, such as aspects of Media City in Salford and the Lancashire County Cricket Club revamp, are unaffected.

Those hit by withdrawals in funding will be able to apply to the new Regional Development Fund from April 2011, the NWDA said.

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