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'Affluent Cheshire' tag hits Euro funding

PARTS of the region are missing out on millions of pounds of European funding because of the county's affluent image.

PARTS of the region are missing out on millions of pounds of European funding because of the county's affluent image.

Halton, Ellesmere Port and Vale Royal say it is unlikely that any significant share of a £66m windfall released to regional government agencies will be directly invested in areas of Cheshire which badly need it.

Last week, it was announced that almost £14.7m would flood into the economies of the three authorities following a cash pledge from the European Regional Development Fund.

On the same day, £36m was also handed out to the North West Development-Agency and £30.6m to the Contact-Group, a consortium of North West universities.

They will be responsible for providing cash injections for struggling businesses in Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and Lancashire.

But the economic development manager for Ellesmere Port, Carston Kressel, says Cheshire is being overlooked and fears the vast majority of the cash will be spent outside the county's borders.

Mr Kressel said: "This bidding is very competitive. We are yet to see any benefit from the previous programme. The view held in Ellesmere Port and Halton is that this money has only benefited businesses in Greater Manchester."

Halton Borough Council leader, Coun Tony McDermott, said Halton and Ellesmere Port were the victims of an in-built bias based on the perception of Cheshire as a wealthy county.

He said: "Although we are one of the Merseyside authorities, when it comes to European funds we are regarded as part of Cheshire.

"Cheshire is still regarded as a prosperous area and so ourselves and Ellesmere Port fall between two stools. We may be in prosperous Cheshire, but our needs are just as great as the rest of the region."

Leaders from the three authorities are lobbying the government for more cash to be released directly to them, instead of being distributed by Government civil servants.

Local representatives will be making the case for more spending in Cheshire in a consultation report due in three weeks.

Meanwhile, council chiefs hope the success of Cheshire's £14.7m bid could ultimately create up to 3,000 jobs.


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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