MORE than £1m will be given to six councils in the North-East to help them draw up plans and develop ways they can regenerate and boost its town centres.

Councils in Darlington, Redcar, Middlesbrough, Thornaby, Hartlepool and Bishop Auckland will receive between £162,019 and £173,029 to draw up their own Town Investment Plans as they bid to each secure up to £25m in funding.

The government’s Towns Fund, which is worth £3.6bn has been designed as an effort to kick-start councils’ innovative plans with the suggestion that funding could be used to redevelop empty buildings and redundant land, drive private sector investment, support small business, improve transport and broadband, and ensure young people achieve high-skilled jobs.

First announced in September, the six councils were among the first of 100 places in England eligible for a total of £150m.

Last night as the Town Fund’s prospectus was released confirming the town funding, Rt Hon Jake Berry MP and Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, said: “We are giving local people in the Tees Valley and County Durham the money and power to decide what is best for their town because they know their community’s unique strengths.

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He added: “Together we can build on the billions of pounds the government has already invested in our towns and the thousands of new jobs and businesses it has delivered, to level up these places across the Northern Powerhouse and beyond.”

The Town Fund prospectus revealed that that a total of £1,005,144 is being allocated to the six North-East councils throughout November.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Durham County Council and Stockton Borough Council will receive £162,019 each - while Middlesbrough Borough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council and Darlington Borough Council will each receive £173,029.

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Responding, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said he was “delighted” and described the fund as the first steps in the Tees Valley securing the £125m.

On Friday, he said: “I’m delighted that Government has pledged funding to help our five boroughs kick off their innovative plans to make the Tees Valley an even better place to live and do business.

“As we’ve seen with the devolution deal that led to my election as Tees Valley Mayor, the people best placed to make decisions about an area are those who live in it.

“This is the first step in securing a pot of up to £125million for the Tees Valley, to give our areas the freedom to do what is needed so that we can continue to attract and retain the businesses our towns need to thrive and encourage even more people to these spaces.

“This is great news and shows what we can do when we pull together, work hard and put forward a positive vision for our area.”