Headlines: February 8th, 2008

A high-level working group is to be set up in Wales to learn from best practice in regeneration in other parts of Britain. It will investigate the possibility of a Welsh national centre of excellence in regeneration to be based in the Heads of the Valleys area.

The Deputy Minister for Regeneration, Leighton Andrews, said the Welsh Assembly Government was determined to learn lessons from elsewhere and was already planning a major regeneration summit that would bring together some of the country’s top practitioners and experts.

“We are also going to set up a small task and finish group to scope the potential for a national centre for excellence in regeneration. We will invite relevant stakeholders including Community Housing Cymru, the Regeneration Skills Collective, the Welsh Local Government Association and the private sector to take part,” he said, adding that the Government was open to ideas which worked wherever they came from.

The study into the possible centre will be co-coordinated by the Assembly’s 140 million pound, 15-year Heads of the Valleys programme. Mr. Andrews highlighted the challenges facing the area but said some real progress had been made. Gross Domestic household income in the central valleys rose by 6 per cent between 1999 and 2005 and the percentage of people who were economically inactive had fallen from 32.5 per cent to 29 per cent since 2003.