A sweeping shake-up of area-based regeneration initiatives is in the pipeline after trenchant criticisms from a battery of leading academics. The government’s regional co-ordination unit will announce the results of a review of area-based initiatives (ABIs) before the three-year spending review is announced in July. This will attempt to apply lessons learned from a major government-sponsored research project, which published its final report this week. The report criticises the ‘continuing stream’ of initiatives, which represents an ‘ongoing load’ on local capacity.

Team director Murray Stewart, director of the Cities Research Centre at the University of the West of England, accepted that the work had been ‘inevitably been overtaken by events’, but added: ‘Some of the implications of our work are as timely to the position in early 2002 as they were in mid-2001. A source at the regional co-ordination unit stressed there was ‘still a case’ for area-based initiatives, which ‘should be seen as niche players’. It is logical to pick out an area and treat it specially,’ he added. ‘But it doesn’t work. It’s far too slippery and complex. It actually creates more problems. An unscheduled reshuffle in the Scottish Executive has seen the rise of deputy social justice minister Margaret Curran following the resignation of enterprise minister Wendy Alexander. Ms Alexander’s decision to quit last week ended a five-month struggle to balance the cumbersome transport, enterprise and lifelong learning portfolio she accepted in last November’s reshuffle. Within Scotland the role earned her the moniker ‘minister for everything’. read more: Enact Conveyancing Adelaide

A spokesperson for the Scottish Executive said the changes were unlikely to fundamentally change the direction of policy or further delay the long-awaited community regeneration statement, which will guide future regeneration activity in Scotland. Ms Curran, a former lecturer in community education, has been credited as the force behind the controversial stock transfer of Glasgow’s council homes to a housing association. It has many challenges, not least transferring Glasgow’s housing stock and defeating child poverty, but I am confident this government can change Scotland for good.

Johann Lamont, convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s social justice committee, said Ms Curran had been central in promoting the idea of housing stock transfer as community empowerment rather than privatisation. She added that the minister had ‘huge amounts of energy, enthusiasm and commitment’ and would bring an important continuity to the role. Ms Curran’s appointment was also welcomed by Craig McLaren, chief executive of the Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum.

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