A MAJOR funding crisis could place the future of some of Halton's most ambitious regeneration schemes in doubt.
Council chiefs claim the North West Development Agency (NWDA) has over-committed itself on funding requirements set for this year - and lengthy delays are imminent.
The regeneration of the Widnes waterfront is among the multi-million pound projects which could be put on hold by the shortfall in cash, and the renovation of Runcorn's Bridgewater Canal could also be postponed.
In addition, optimistic plans for the regeneration of Runcorn's Castlefields estate are expected to be blighted by delays.
Now the leader of Halton Borough Council Tony McDermott has said the investment crisis could grow much worse, with the borough losing out on vital European cash.
And he says the problem is affecting the whole of the North West region, and may force the council to root out alternative sources of funding.
However, possible solutions have already been tabled out by council bosses with representatives from the NWDA at a meeting on Monday, with Cllr McDermott keen to stress the good relations between both parties.
He said: 'I am confident that solutions can arise out of the talks that have been taking place.
'It's not a question of if these projects will go ahead, but when, however the current problem could mean delays.
'This is happening to redevelopment projects across the North West, but we are still in talks - and plan to meet again in a couple of weeks time.
'The various projects have all got to be match funded with European money, and so we are faced with added pressure from the Government office to ensure we spend the European money that we're entitled to.
'If we don't, we could lose it to Brussels.
'But we have got an excellent record with the NWDA, particularly with carrying out what we say we do, which should stand us in good stead to resolve the problems in the talks.'
Given below are details of NWDA funding that have been earmarked for each project, and match funded with European money:
The Economic Development Zone and Widnes Waterfront, £7.5m. The Castlefields regeneration programme, £1.9m.
Renovation of the Bridge Water canal, £300,000.
Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes, an amount to be confirmed.
The freight, railroad inter-change at Ditton, £3.75m over five years.
Sector street furniture for the town centre redevelopment, £2.8m.
Single Pot (This is the successor to SRB which runs out in 2006), £7.5m.
A spokeswoman for the NWDA said: 'We fully intend to meet projected budget and performance targets over the lifetime of the plan.'