Headlines: July 25th, 2005

The latest guides produced by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to support local authorities and agencies in improving the quality of life in local communities, are designed to help them find better ways to create cleaner, greener and safer areas.The guides have been produced as a strand of the “How To” programme, which aims to support councils and other bodies to take action to improve the quality of life for people in England. “How to improve residential areas” and “How to create quality parks and open spaces” offer advice on action that can be taken and powers that can be used as well as detailing what resources are available to improve the local environment.

Launching the guides, ODPM Minister Kay Andrews told representatives of 35 towns and cities, “Whether it is the street we live on, the park we play in or the town centre we shop at, we all know that the quality of our local environment has a direct impact on the quality of our lives. In recent years there has been a real improvement in creating communities, which are clean, safe and green but there is still more that we can do.”

She said the task of creating better places to live was shared by many bodies, from central government to local decision makers and frontline workers. The “How To” to programme was about bringing those players together to build a stronger and more effective partnership.

The first guide, “How to create quality parks and open spaces” looks at strategies for reviving green spaces and making sure they are placed at the heart of plans for communities. It looks at specific examples, such as the Wymatt estate in Lancashire, where the local community has led the transformation of a former bog into a community haven.

“How to improve residential areas” focuses on improving places where people live. Its advice emphasises that action can have a big impact on tackling issues such as crime and anti-social behaviour. It, too, uses examples, pointing for instance to Plymouth where the redesign of a street has contributed to a 90 per cent fall in crime.

Ben Page, Director of the MORI Social Research Institute, welcomed the new guides, which follow the publication of “How to manage town centres”, which was produced in March this year. He said, “The renewed focus by central and local government on the things that really matter to people – how clean, safe and green where they live is – does seem to be having an impact.”