Headlines: November 30th, 2004

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council has become the first local authority in England to sign an ambitious agreement that could be worth more than six million pounds for local services if it achieves certain performance targets.The deal is the first to be reached under the second generation of the Local Public Service Agreement scheme launched by the government at the end of last year. The idea is to give councils more leeway to set targets based on their priorities for improvement locally, rather than having national goals set by central government. Authorities that meet the performance targets earn a reward grant equivalent to two and a half per cent of the authority’s budget for one year.

The new agreements also place greater emphasis on partnership working between councils and other local organisations to bring about improvements in key areas that have been identified as being most important to local people.

Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford said the agreement with Tameside set some challenging targets across a range of key areas, including education, crime and anti-social behaviour to the environment. “These are some of the most important issues for local residents today and I am confident that the new targets will be a major impetus for driving forward improvements in service delivery, ” he said.

The agreement was signed for Tameside by Councillor Margaret Oldham, who said the authority was proud to be the first to agree a second generation LPSA with the Government. She said the council, working with its partners, had promised to cut the number of burglaries in the borough by 1,200 by 2007 and to reduce youth nuisance incidents by 2,620 compared to current levels. Other targets include commitments to improve educational attainment across the borough, increase the independence of older people, cut the use of Bed and Breakfast accommodation by 16 and 17year olds and to improve the cleanliness of Tameside streets.

If Tameside meets its targets the Government will pay out a maximum reward grant of 6 million pounds. It will also give the council a pump-priming grant of more than 900 thousand pounds this year.