Headlines: November 23rd, 2006



Four London boroughs are to share almost a million pounds to help them bring about improvements in their councils and to share expertise with other boroughs across the political spectrum. The support for the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Harrow, Havering and Merton includes funding from Capital Ambition, London’s Improvement Partnership.

Under the scheme the four authorities will develop the expertise of both staff and councillors to improve the management and efficiency of a range of services. The Capital Ambition partnership was created by all 33 London local authorities, the Greater London Authority and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to support and advise boroughs and to help them share information with the aim of enhancing the delivery of public services across London as a whole. The partnership’s target is to ensure that by the end of 2008 every authority in the capital achieves at least a two star rating in Comprehensive Performance Assessment. Its other aim is to help 90 per cent of the authorities achieve a positive direction of travel statement each year.

The support for the four boroughs follows a similar package awarded to the Borough of Waltham Forest in August 2006. Under that scheme, officers from six other boroughs, with differing political administrations are working with their peers in Waltham Forest to enhance the Council’s improvement programme.

The latest announcement sees a quarter of a million pounds going to Barking and Dagenham to link staff working in housing, community cohesion, neighbourhood management, leisure and governance with colleagues from other boroughs to support improvements in all those services. Havering will use its 200,000 pounds to enhance the member and management development schemes in the borough. Harrow will receive 250,000 pounds for service reviews and programme management to help its ambitious programme of improvements and a similar amount has been granted to Merton to help with improvements to its financial management and value for money reviews. The council will also use the funding towards its diversity work.

Derek Myers, who chairs the Capital Ambition Board, said London councils had not worked together in this way before but Capital Ambition was established as two way process to share expertise across borders and the political spectrum and to be honest about areas that could be improved. “The boroughs’ open and honest approach will achieve real change and long term improvements in the capital’s council services. We mustn’t be shy about investing in our staff and members as good management will inevitably lead to even better services for our residents,” he said.