Archives for January 2006

LOCAL AUTHORITY IN FINAL OF HEALTHY WORKPLACE AWARDS

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 January, 2006

A county council has reached the finals of a national competition to find Britain’s healthiest places to work. Initiatives set up by Wiltshire Council have won it a place in the last stages of the BBC Big Challenge Health Works Awards, which were set up to find companies and organisations that put a premium on health in the workplace.The awards set out to highlight the social and financial cost of preventable illnesses that are linked to poor diet, lack of physical activity, stress and smoking.

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NEW NHS RESEARCH STRATEGY AIMS TO CUT RED TAPE

Headlines, PublicNet: 26 January, 2006

All NHS patients are to be given access to clinical trials and get the chance to participate in studies of cutting-edge medical therapies as part of a new strategy designed to cut red tape and make it easier and quicker to get research programmes started. The strategy will support those carrying out health and social care research throughout England.The Minister for Quality and Patient Safety, Jane Kennedy, said the requirement to carry out research for the improvement of care and treatments was one of the founding principles of the NHS and it was important to harness the service’s capacity to make the UK the best place in the world for health research. The new strategy, “Best Research for Best Health”, aims to improve the quality of research and its relevance to patients as well as making it simpler to get research underway.

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MIND THE ENTERPRISE GAP: IS ENTERPRISE POLICY WORKING TO HELP BUSINESS IN DEPRIVED AREAS?

Abstracts, PublicNet: 25 January, 2006

This paper from The Institute for Public Policy Research’s Centre for Cities looks at the effectiveness of enterprise policy on helping businesses in deprived areas. Building enterprise in deprived urban areas is a key policy goal. But relatively little is known about the effectiveness of enterprise initiatives in deprived areas, or about the needs of businesses that are located there. The Centre for Cities’ City Markets Project has surveyed 348 businesses in deprived areas in Derby, Doncaster and Sunderland to find out about the market factors affecting business location in these areas and the real impact of enterprise initiatives.The survey reveals three key findings. First, connectivity is the main asset of these deprived areas. Building on this and other assets is the way forward. Second, business support schemes such as Business Link are not well recognised, but those who use Business Link are reasonably satisfied. And third, the benefits of Enterprise Areas are hardly utilised – only two percent of the sample had used any of them.

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PLANNING PROCESS PILOT PROJECTS ANNOUNCED

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 January, 2006

Local authorities are to take part in a series of pilot projects intended to improve and speed up the planning process for larger and more complex developments. The new Planning Delivery Agreement schemes aim to give greater certainty to developers over the handling of their applications and to offer local councils a management framework.Under the 22 pilots, local planning authorities will work with developers, and other stakeholders with a commitment to an agreed project plan that will set out a timeframe for a decision. It will also highlight the resources needed and the requirement for community engagement with the object of ensuring that sustainability and design standards are properly considered.

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COUNCILS ‘STALLING ON QUIET LANES IN ABSENCE OF REGULATIONS’

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 January, 2006

Local authorities are holding back from designating rural roads as Quiet Lanes because of the Government’s failure to publish regulations more than five years after the Transport Act, according to campaign group the CPRE. It had seen the Act as bringing hope to walkers, cyclists and horse riders because their needs are given greater priority on Quiet Lanes, which are shared use roads.The lanes are meant to be identified by highway authorities working with local communities but, the CPRE says, although local authorities can designate minor rural roads as Quiet Lanes under the Act they have been reluctant to do so in the absence of the Regulations.

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NETWORK HELPS VOLUNTARY SECTOR WITH PUBLIC SERVICE CONTRACTS

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 January, 2006

A new network has been launched to support people working in the voluntary and community sector who are responsible for negotiating and managing public service contracts. It’s been set up by the National Council for Voluntary Organisation’s Sustainable Funding Project, in partnership with Futurebuilders England, in response to the fact that while the sector is playing an important and increasing role in delivering public services, many organisations are still encountering barriers and finding contracting a complex process.The Public Service Delivery Network is also open to statutory authorities and agencies interested in enhancing their understanding of and relations with the voluntary sector. NCVO Chief Executive Stuart Etherington said the new network would help to develop capacity by providing a forum for peer support and professional development opportunities. “We hope it will provide a springboard for effective partnership working, both between the VCS and the public sector, and within the VCS itself,” he said.

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COUNCILS WORKING WITH UNIVERSITIES TO TACKLE TOWN AND GOWN MYTH

Headlines, PublicNet: 24 January, 2006

A report today highlights how local authorities, communities and universities are working together to integrate students into the areas where they are living. The report from Universities UK also hopes to stimulate initiatives to ensure the benefits students bring to university towns and cities are nurtured.Universities UK says the aim of the research leading to today’s report was to be a ‘stepping-stone’ to more effectively managing and integrating students into local communities at a time when there are growing concentration of students in places across the country because more people now go on to higher education. It wanted to look at good practice as an alternative to legislation or regulatory intervention.

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BEST VALUE USER SATISFACTION SURVEY 2006-07

Abstracts, PublicNet: 23 January, 2006

This consultation document sets out the Governments’ proposals for the 2006-07 Best Value User Satisfaction Survey. Views are invited from stakeholders on these proposals and on the draft questionnaire. The Survey measures the satisfaction of residents and service users with the quality of services delivered by their local authority, and their safisfaction more generally with a range of quality of life issues in their local area. Survey results provide information which can help councils to shape, deliver and improve local services around the needs and wishes of local people. These surveys are one of the largest conducted in the country. In 2003/04 they involved over 500,000 responses.In addition to stakeholder’s general comments, views are invited on whether county councils should run joint surveys, the merits of a single prescribed research method, the use of stratified sampling and clustering and whether any of the existing questions should be removed.

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VOLUNTEERS FAILING TO MARKET THEIR SKILLS

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 January, 2006

People who undertake voluntary work in the UK or overseas are failing to market the skills they gain to employers. According to research from the Chartered Management Institute and Voluntary Service Overseas, individuals who volunteer internationally develop expertise that addresses UK skills gaps. And even though employers are quick to recognise the value of volunteering, individuals do not always market themselves sufficiently when they return home. The researchers found that some 70% of managers in local government are involved in either domestic or overseas volunteering.Eighty percent of volunteers believed they returned with expertise that they would not have gained in the UK. Some 90 per cent said they were now more capable of handling different cultures and three-quarters suggested they became better communicators. Around half also claimed that voluntary work had developed problem solving abilities and influencing skills. However, only 23 per cent saw it as a chance to build networks, and just 16 per cent cited the prospect of learning new skills as motivation for volunteering.

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MORE PATIENT CARE TO BE PROVIDED IN THE COMMUNITY

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 January, 2006

The NHS strategy of moving patients out of hospitals and into the community has been boosted with the announcement that 60 new GP surgeries, health centres and clinics, will open in 2006. This follows the opening of 50 similar premises in 2005.The new buildings will offer many services traditionally only found in hospitals. By including additional facilities patients will no longer have to make journeys to hospital many miles away for example to receive renal dialysis or minor surgery. Older patients and those with long-term conditions will receive care closer to home. Many of the new facilities are in the poorest areas and they will help to raise the standards of care in places where it is needed most.

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