ALMOST £7m will be given to communities across east Cleveland during the next three years, thanks to Government grants.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has been allocated £3,472,000 for 2004-2005, and the same amount for 2005-2006, as part of a regional package of £106m from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. The money will be shared among 14 authorities.

David Walsh, council leader, said: "This news is really welcome. It augments our mainstream programmes and allows ourselves and our partners to carry on innovative work in areas that are not totally the council's responsibility, but which are important to us.

"These include improving public health, cutting down on crime and disorder, improving the local environment and making sure our older people have a more secure future."

Professor Brian Footitt, chairman of the partnership that will allocate the money, said: "This is a positive endorsement by Government of the commitment to partnerships already working for the benefit of the people of Redcar and Cleveland.

"This additional money will allow us to develop further our inter-agency work with local neighbourhoods through- out Redcar and Cleveland."

One of the most successful projects to benefit from the fund is the Community Safety Warden Service, now covering every area of the borough.