Lottery windfall for district

By Ian Dipple 01/03 Updated: 01/03 16:48

RESIDENTS in part of Redditch are being handed £1million to spend on improving the area where they live.

Church Hill has been given the money from the Big Lottery Fund as part of a pioneering scheme aimed at giving residents more control over tackling problems in their community.

The money will be available over a ten year period and can be spent in a variety of ways such as on providing more activities for young or older people, environmental projects or schemes to tackle youth unemployment.

A local decision-making panel will be set-up, which residents will be asked to join, to help decide where the cash should go.

Several areas of Redditch were put forward to receive the money but it was felt Church Hill was an area which had been overlooked for funding in the past.

John Taylor, head of the Big Lottery Fund in the West Midlands, said they hoped the money would act as a catalyst to attract investment from other organisations and the private sector to benefit the area further.

"When we went out on the street and talked to residents there was a feeling other areas were moving forward and they were stuck with the new town build of the 1960s, their retail centre wasn’t as good as it could be and opportunities for young people and older people weren't there,” he said.

"The whole point of this is it will be residents that set their priorities and decide where the money should be spent, not me or my committee in London or Birmingham."

Borough council leader Carole Gandy said the money would add to the investment they were already making in revamping Church Hill Centre.

"This will make a huge amount of difference. It is a significant sum of money and whatever we do it is a chance to do something there that will leave a lasting impact."

Coun Bill Hartnett, who represents Church Hill on the borough council, added: "Whether it is spent on youth unemployment initiatives to get young people back into work or teach them a trade, physical buildings or supporting groups and community schemes, it will be very exciting to see what comes forward and I am sure this money will enhance and change for the better, the lives of residents in Church Hill."

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