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Government sticks to Pathfinder

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has vowed to stand by its highly controversial Pathfinder scheme despite growing criticism.

The initiative has been hitting the headlines ever since its inception under John Prescott, in what was then the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Rumours have recently abounded that Ruth Kelly, who has taken over Prescott's brief, was quietly preparing to drop the schemes - which would see the demolition of huge swathes of run-down terraced housing in the North of England as a way of forcing up house prices.

In a statement to the AJ, the DCLG said: 'There are no plans to abolish the Pathfinder schemes, they still have a role to play in regenerating areas with low housing demand.

'The government has demonstrated its commitment by recently announcing almost £650 million of funding in 2006-08 for pathfinders and other market renewal areas.'

The reaffirmation from the government department swiftly follows the Blackburn and Darwen County Council debacle, where the DCLG was forced to serve a High Court injunction after the council demolished 80 homes in the area.

Kelly has had a torrid time trying to prevent over-zealous local governments destroying vast swathes of houses, or trying to push through the Pathfinder schemes against heritage groups calling to keep buildings in the firing line.

by Richard Vaughan

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