Headlines: January 17th, 2001

Ministerial committees, Whitehall departments working together and collaboration between Whitehall and local councils have failed to deliver joined up public services. Disillusionment within Government about the ineffective top down, command and control management model has become clear with the announcement of a new model for implementing the Neighbourhood Renewal Action Plan.The new approach involves a transfer of power from Whitehall to the frontline. Local strategic partnerships made up from representatives of the local council, health education and police services, other public agencies and the voluntary sector, will have the prime responsibility for devising and implementing strategies to address local issues. The partnerships will be given a framework of aims and broad targets.

Publication of the Neighbourhood Plan reveals for the first time how other pieces of the organisational jigsaw fit together. Strategies devised by the partnership will be implemented by Neighbourhood Managers whose remit will span across the boundaries of all organisations having a responsibility in the manager’s patch. Government Offices for the Regions will carry some responsibility for implementation of the Plan and they will have dedicated units to support the strategic partnerships.

In a radical move to join up the centre, a 50 strong inter departmental Neighbourhood Renewal Unit has been set up. The Unit is based in the Department for Environment Transport and the Regions and is headed by Joe Montgomery, formerly Executive Director for Regeneration with the London Borough of Lewisham. He reports to local government Minister Hilary Armstrong and the Deputy Prime Minister. The Unit’s work will be superintended by a cross-departmental group of Ministers, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Creation of the Renewal Unit shows conclusively that the new local empowerment management model requires one stop co-ordination at the centre. No announcements have been made about how public services beyond neighbourhood renewal will be co-ordinated at the centre.