HALTON'S drive towards a cleaner and healthier borough has received a boost in the form of a £32m cash injection.
The award, which is specific to Halton, is to be spent during 2006-7 implementing a scheme dubbed the Community Strategy for Halton, which has been drawn up by a range of agencies and will be put into place over the next five years.
It is the first in a line of grants which will be applied for in future.
At the heart of the strategy are five key themes: Health, urban renewal, children and young people, learning and skills and community safety.
Projects will include healthy living and eating schemes, initiatives to boost the number of jobs available and improve housing standards and initiatives to improve access to education and employment training.
There will also be a concerted effort to stamp out anti-social behaviour and domestic violence and the schemes aim to make major improvements to quality of life for Halton residents.
A Halton council spokesman said the cash is being drawn in from a range of sources.
He said several million pounds has come from a three-way partnership between the North West Development Agency, English Partnerships and the European Funding Programme.
The council has also received money through a fund for urban renewal from central government, which will be matched by the council and from the Government's neighbourhood renewal fund.
Priority targets for the cash include the ongoing revamp of Widnes and Runcorn town centres, commercial and residential developments at the waterfronts on both sides of the river and the clean-up of contaminated land.
The £32m grant is first of several which will be sought by the partnership over the next five years. The formation of the partnership, which includes representatives from the council, police, health service and community and voluntary sector organisations, is now said to give the council more 'clout' when it comes to securing large grants.
Cllr Polhill, deputy leader of Halton Borough Council, said: 'The new community strategy is the result of 18 months of consultation and planning and is a vital tool in focusing the work of Halton's service providers.
'By working together, all the partners in Halton can focus on what needs doing and do things better. People are very clear about what improvements they want to see. Using the strategy, it's now our job to make it happen.'