Last week the Heritage Lottery Fund came to Westminster to brief MP’s about their work in the North East. I went along to hear about the projects they have funded in the past and see what lessons can be learned about future awards. Our area has done well from the Heritage Lottery Fund, receiving nearly £11 million in the last twenty years. Some have been big awards such as funding for the Dome, Northumberland and Richardson Dees Public Parks and the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House. Other awards have encouraged and supported local groups including the Tynemouth WW1 Commemoration Project and the Shiremoor and District Children’s Treat. The bigger awards often need local authority support and it is clear that having a Mayor who can bring direction and accountability to regeneration has been important.
Back in my constituency I met with representatives of the Whitley Bay Big Local Plan for an update on the plans they have for community regeneration. One of 150 local groups in the scheme they are working hard to identify ways of improving our area and making a difference.
Finally I will be meeting Ministers soon to discuss seaside and coastal towns and to see how Government both local and national can further develop the potential from tourism and physical regeneration. The success of regeneration to me is about bringing together financial resources with our most important asset – the people who live here.