Government stresses importance of local partnerships to neighbourhood renewal

Local strategic partnerships (LSPs) are core business and are
here to stay, government officials told delegates at a
neighbourhood renewal conference last week.

Public services director at the Treasury Lucy de Groot said
people were “living in cloud cuckoo land” if they thought the new
agenda and the commitment to partnerships would just go away. The
agenda was outlined in the social exclusion unit’s national
neighbourhood renewal strategy action plan published in

She told the conference, organised by the Local Government
Association and social exclusion unit, that LSPs would need to have
enough punch to ensure that the key players were fully engaged in
the process, warning that they would “become irrelevant if they are
just another talking shop”.

Beverley Hughes, minister at the Department of the Environment,
Transport and the Regions, stressed that the partnership approach
“is not an add-on business, it is the core business”.

LSPs will be between the public, private, voluntary and
community sectors and will be responsible for implementing the
national strategy action plan at a local level, and for
contributing to the development and implementation of community

There will also be a requirement on the 88 local authorities
eligible for the £900 million neighbourhood renewal fund
announced in July 2000 to agree their local neighbourhood renewal
strategies with LSPs by April 2002.

Hughes said that local authorities would play a pivotal role in
the initial development of LSPs, but must also act as
“facilitators, bringing other communities and public services in as
equal partnerships in the pursuit of regeneration”.

She described the government’s action plan as a “more
comprehensive approach to tackling the problems of deprived
neighbourhoods than has ever been tried before” with a clear 10 to
20-year vision, which every department had signed up to.

The vision is reflected in two long-term goals: to lower
unemployment and crime, and have better health, skills, housing and
physical environment in the poorest neighbourhoods; and to narrow
the gap of these measures between the most deprived neighbourhoods
and the rest of the country.

As a result of the measures in the action plan, mainstream
services will be judged on their achievements in improving things
where they are bad – rather than on national averages – to see that
standards across the country meet minimum targets.

“For the first time, the targets will put outcomes in deprived
areas at the heart of the government’s main departments’ agendas
and at the heart of mainstream public services in local areas,”
Hughes said.

“Most people agree that these targets are ambitious,
particularly given the poor outcomes in the most deprived areas.
But we are confident that the investment we are making in public
services makes them achievable.”

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