Headlines: April 2nd, 2001

The move to give greater freedom to public service providers to respond to needs at the community level has been taken forward with publication of details of how local strategic partnerships will work. Many parts of the public, private voluntary and community sectors are already working together to tackle complex social, economic and environmental issues. The new strategic partnerships will provide an umbrella to bring together public bodies, voluntary and community groups and businesses into a coherent whole with greater freedom to tackle local issues, particularly social exclusion and neighbourhood renewal.The partnerships will operate as non-statutory, non-executive organisations. Their responsibilities will include preparing a communitystrategy for the area and co-ordinating local plans, partnerships and initiatives and providing a forum for local councils, the police, health services, central government and other agencies to work to meet community needs. They will also work with councils to develop local public service agreements.

Support for the partnerships will come from Government Offices for the Regions as well as from the new inter-departmental Neighbourhood Renewal Unit which will help to implement the National Strategy Neighbourhood Renewal Action Plan and ensure “joined-up” working with Central Government.

Membership of the partnerships will be decided locally, but the inclusion of all interested parties and effective working will be among the conditions to be fulfilled before receiving funding from some budgets.