The company also offered a training package and help with job-hunting to ensure that the bulk of the employment generated by the new stores stayed within the locality, as it has done at its widely celebrated Seacroft store in Leeds. Mr Prescott, who had called in the schemes for public inquiries, decided that the benefits of regenerating individual sites were not enough to tip the balance. To add insult to Tesco’s injury, Mr Prescott granted permission for a mixed-use scheme in Wolverhampton town centre promoted by its rival, Sainsbury.
Mike O’Brien, chair of the Litherland Community Resource Centre, expressed disappointment with the deputy prime minister’s decision. He argued that as well as bringing back to life a former tar works, which had been derelict for two decades, it would have created jobs in an area where half of the adult population is unemployed. A Tesco spokesperson said Mr Prescott’s decision was at odds with the government’s promise in the Queen’s speech to ease the planning process in the most deprived areas. But he added that company would not scrap its programme of opening stores in run-down neighbourhoods.
Two thousand deprived areas across the UK that will be declared ‘enterpise zones’ were unveiled in chancellor Gordon Brown’s pre-budget report this week. The package includes abolishing stamp duty on all commercial property, subject to clearance under EU state aid rules. Mr Brown said he hoped to secure approval in January. Grants of up to £30,000 will be made available to not-for-profit organisations for feasibility studies of business incubators, in order to nurture start-ups and small enterprises. Brown revealed plans to extend employment zones’ work to lone parents and people returning to New Deal programmes for a second time.
As anticipated, the chancellor also unveiled plans to pilot a programme of intensive support in neighbourhoods with very high concentrations of people out of work after April 2004. In each pilot area, residents claiming jobseeker’s allowance will be fast-tracked onto New Deal programmes after just three months. A long-awaited £13m company to tackle run-down housing in former pit villages in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire will be launched in January, New Start can reveal. Based in the Meden Valley – an area that has suffered extreme levels of deprivation and unemployment since its coal mines closed 20 years ago – the initiative follows a three-year struggle by local authorities to take control of abandoned houses and absentee landlords. Read more: E Conveyancing Brisbane