Headlines: May 20th, 2002

The 20th century supermarket model with retailers bringing together food, drink, clothing, books, pharmaceuticals, toys and electrical goods, is soon to be trialled by public services. Initially a limited number of services will be brought together under one roof. The early combinations are likely to be health and youth services, police and voluntary sector organizations; employment and advice services, adult education, family and primary healthcare and a library. The most ambitious project will include a healthy living centre, nursery, crèche, community and outreach training rooms, the Citizens Advice Bureau, together with a community policing base.

Five councils were successful in the bidding round and they have now been invited by the Department for Transport Local Government and the Regions to prepare business cases for their joint service centres. All the bidders had to commit to improving and increasing the range of services and facilities to be provided to their local residents.

All the projects will be developed under the Public Finance Initiative and the business cases must show better value for money than if they had followed traditional funding routes.

If the supermarket model proves successful it could be the death knell of dedicated purpose built buildings such as libraries and health centers and town halls could loose their front offices.