Local strategic partnerships, which bring together councils, the health service, central departments as well as the private, business, community and voluntary sectors, are making progress, but they have to do more to transform the vision into real differences for local people. This is the conclusion of research by INLOGOV carried out for the Local Government Association and the Improvement and Development Agency.Councils are using the partnership mechanism to develop their leadership role and the other partners accept this leadership. But the researchers found that there are tensions within partnerships, particularly between the councils and the voluntary and community sectors.
A major issue that must be resolved is the complexity of partnership arrangements in areas where there are two and three-tier local government. Up to 40 public bodies may be providing services in any one locality and the partnerships have to find ways to bring it together so that people receive a seamless service. Because the local strategic partnership is an umbrella for other partnerships the issue is complicated further. In the extreme there may be over 100 partnerships doing similar things in one locality. The Home Office and the Department of Health plan to merge Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships and Drug Action Teams as a contribution to reducing bureaucracy.
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