European Grant Aid in Further Delay Fiasco

MILLIONS of pounds of European aid to the West Midlands faces further delay as the result of what a local MEP has branded a "fiasco". Assisted area cash destined for impoverished parts of the region will still not been released a full year after it should have been - thanks to a string of blunders.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins MEP, British Conservative spokesman in Parliament on the Regions, Transport and Tourism Committee, said the fiasco had been created by a mixture of administrative incompetence and political apathy, both by the European Commission and the Labour Government.

Sir Robert said: "Since being elected last year, I have been monitoring the progress of the UK's bid for regional aid. First there was the argument between John Prescott and Stephen Byers over how to define the areas that qualified. Then there was political gerrymandering that resulted in the European Commission sending back Britain's submission twice. Now, when it has finally been approved the regulatory document (called the single programming document) has been further delayed by civil servants in the region and the European Commission until at least October."

"As a consequence of this", concluded Sir Robert "much-needed money which has been available since the beginning of this year will now not be available until 12 months after its scheduled start. It is nothing short of a disgrace and heads should roll, especially in Westminster where this whole 'Yes Minister' style fiasco began."

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