Anger over lack of funding for Suffolk

POLITICIANS in Suffolk and Essex have blasted what they say is the unfairness of government spending after a leaked document revealed a huge disparity in regional allocations.

POLITICIANS in Suffolk and Essex have blasted what they say is the unfairness of government spending after a leaked document revealed a huge disparity in regional allocations.

This week their comments were backed by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), the body responsible for economic growth in the region.

Figures show that in 2007/08 the East of England received levels of public expenditure per head that were 13pc below the England average.

The new report, prepared for the East of England Strategic Authority Leaders Group, also highlights that between 1999 and 2008 the East was the second lowest funded region for community-led regeneration projects, designed to help create new jobs.

Over this period it received �125.5million of the economy-boosting schemes - more than �237m less than the national average, and more than �769m less than the North West.

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council, said: 'We lose out in every way. We are one of the highest taxed regions but we get less back.

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'In recent years there has been much more money diverted away from the South and we've seen an erosion in what money we get.

'I don't agree that all the regeneration problems are in the North, there are problems here as well and areas which really need the money.

'We need money for investment in infrastructure such as our roads. We also need more investment in training for young people who have one of the lowest levels of attainment.

'Why should we have to subsidise the rest of the county when we desperately need the facilities ourselves?'

His thoughts were echoed by the leader of Suffolk County Council, Jeremy Pembroke, who said: 'We have always felt in the East of England that we have come off worse and are not getting a fair deal.

'We have put pressure on the government, but need to do more to change the situation.

'The infrastructure in the region needs to be addressed, for example the A12 and railway facilities.'

A project funded by EEDA is the North Suffolk Skills Centre in Halesworth, which helps young people gain skills in vehicle maintenance, catering and health and social care. EEDA invested �1.26m.

Richard Ellis, chair of EEDA, which will face a multimillion pound cut in its budget over the next two years, said with the right investment and support the East of England could help lead the UK out of recession.

'The East of England is one of only three regions to be a net contributor to the exchequer. Yet, despite this and the fact the East of England supports a thriving and innovative business community, the region remains one of the lowest funded regions in England.

'There is a weight of evidence behind which this region can rally. For example, EEDA's Transport Economic Evidence Study (TEES) published last year showed that congestion on the transport network costs the region in excess of �1billion a year. If action is not taken very soon this figure is set to double to over �2 billion by 2021.

'With the right investment and support, the economy of the East of England can help to lead the UK out of recession.

'We have the skills and expertise as well as the invention and innovation to deliver success. However, for the region to maximise its potential it must be granted a fair funding allocation.'

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