The creation of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, following the break up of the Department for Transport Local Government and the Regions, was much more than a name change and an administrative re-structuring. The newly published aims, objectives and performance targets of the new department reveal a remarkable shift in thinking. Whilst the aim of the DTLR was to improve the quality of life throughout its various areas of responsibility, the aim of the ODPM is: “Thriving, inclusive and sustainable communities in all regions”.The ODPM has set out its objectives which relate to deprived communities, decision making and the quality of life. These are similar to areas which formed the DTLR objectives . The main difference is that while the DTLR used the term ‘England’, the new department uses ‘English regions’.
A main indication of the shift to a regional focus comes in Objective 2: “Provide for effective devolved decision making within a framework of national targets and policies.The DTLR was aiming to promote a system of government which responds to needs, but the target for the ODPM under this objective is to provide the opportunity by the end of this Parliament for a referendum on regional government in regions where there is a demand for it.
This regional focus was reflected in the recently published vision of local government in January 2006, see Publicnet Briefing 8th August. The view presented by the ODPM was that by this date public services would be joined up, seamless and delivered jointly by local and regional partnerships.