Businesses back coal cash fund

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CASH awarded to Wigan to make up for the loss of its mining industry has yielded mixed results in recent years.

Latest figures show that £7m has been given to the borough by the North West Coalfield Communities Regeneration Programme in the last seven years.

And among its successes it can claim to have increased the skills and qualifications of no fewer than 1,393 people and supported more than 100 businesses.

But the programme, one of whose stated aims is “addressing and reducing high levels of worklessness,” can only claim credit for getting 74 off the dole queues and into a job.

It should however be pointed out that much of the period in question has been dogged by the economic downturn.

And overall the scheme has been regarded as a major success in breathing new life into the region’s former coalfields.

The NWCCRP has invested a total £30m over the past seven years, helping 948 unemployed into a job in total.

The programme was managed by Wigan Council on behalf of the Northwest Regional Development Agency and Coalfield Regeneration Trust.

Coun Keith Cunliffe, Wigan Council’s representative on the NWCCRP board and Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “The success of the whopping £30m NWCCRP is due to excellent programme management by Wigan Council’s Economic Development Office and the strength of the partnership between the eight local authorities.

“The strong partnership has delivered a unique programme, which is being used as an example of best practice throughout the country.

“I am very proud that Wigan has co-ordinated and be part of such a prestigious partnership.”

Coun Terry O’Neill, chairman of the NWCCRP Board, said: “This has been an excellent programme and the £30m has made a huge difference to the North West’s coalfield communities.”

“We are very grateful the NWDA has shown confidence in the partnership, as the NWCCRP programme has made a real difference to the targeted communities and met the overall objectives.

“The board has been praised for its effective partnership working and was highlighted as a key driver for regeneration.”