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Paper 6 - 28 November 1997 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

28 November 1997

OBSERVER STATUS

Paper from the Policy Officer

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That two representatives from the voluntary sector in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight be invited to attend meetings of the Association as observers in accordance with paragraphs 9 and 10; and

(2) That a further report be considered on the possibility of extending observer status to neighbouring authorities.

BACKGROUND

1. The Constitution adopted in June 1997 gave observer status to the Associations of Parish and Town Councils. When these Associations were granted full member status at the last meeting, members agreed that the Association should investigate the possibility of giving other organisations observer status.

POSSIBLE CANDIDATES

2. Observer status should be considered for partners. Partners with local authorities in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight can be categorised as follows:

government departments

other public bodies (eg Health)

major undertakings with statutory duties (eg water companies, port authorities)

neighbouring local authorities

the private sector

the voluntary sector.

Government Departments

3. Close liaison is maintained with the Government Office for the South East (GOSE), and individual government departments can attend as necessary. The Director of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Team at GOSE is routinely invited to Association meetings and made a presentation to the last meeting. The Employment Service is making a presentation to this meeting. It would be unnecessary to invite other observers from this category.

Other Public Bodies and Major Undertakings

4. Even if it were desirable, it would be impractical to offer observer status to all other public bodies and major public undertakings. This group is very diverse and could not be represented in a satisfactory way by any one observer. However it will be important for the Health Service and other partners to attend to contribute to discussion on specific issues. In particular it is the policy of this Association that the Police Authority should join as a full member. Probation, and other partners will need to attend from time to time.

Neighbouring Local Authorities

5. Neighbouring local authorities tend to have their own associations and need to liaise mainly with their immediate neighbours rather than with all members of this Association. The Berkshire authorities are part of the Association of Councils in the Thames Valley Region (ACTVaR). This Association has formed good links with ACTVaR through the South East Regional Forum, and is attempting to form a confederation of councils in the rest of the GOSE area to counter balance the influence of ACTVaR. Authorities in Surrey have recently formed an Association of their own. Neighbouring authorities in West Sussex work closely together but one or two may be interested in observer status. Wiltshire authorities have their own Association.

6. The unitary authorities in Dorset have expressed some interest in joining this Association, and it may be worth pursuing the idea of observer status with them on an experimental basis. This experiment would need to be on the basis that it was not intended in any way to undermine the boundaries fixed for government departments, Regional Development Agencies and other purposes. Its aim would be to recognise the need for, and to improve, cross-border co-operation in an area which is economically inter-dependent and where there are already important cross-border partners eg Southern Tourist Board and Chief Leisure Officers' Association. Observer status would need to be offered to all relevant local authorities, not just those which have expressed an interest.

The Private Sector

7. The private sector is already heavily engaged with member authorities through existing mechanisms such as the Hampshire Economic Partnership and the Island Regeneration Partnership. Representation on this Association would be unnecessary.

The Voluntary Sector

8. The voluntary sector would be interested in being represented on an observer basis. Two observers from this sector would be the most that could be contemplated without 'packing' meetings. There might, however, be some difficulty finding representatives of the voluntary sector who could be accepted by that sector as

(a) representing the voluntary sector in its widest sense

(b) able to take a strategic overview for the whole of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

9. It is suggested that in the first instance the Association invites one representative from Community Action Hampshire (formerly HCCS) and one from the Isle of Wight Rural Community Council. Meanwhile, the Association is consulting widely within the voluntary sector on its action plan. The report on these consultations will indicate any other ways of involving the voluntary sector in the work of the Association. In particular it should be noted that Portsmouth and Southampton voluntary sectors will want to be adequately represented in due course. This matter will need to be reconsidered as and when the City Councils become full members of the Association.

10. The representative from Community Action Hampshire will have a particularly wide area to cover. It is suggested that this representative should be responsible for reporting back to the joint meetings of Hampshire Councils of Community Service and related bodies in the voluntary sector.

NICK GOULDER
Policy Officer

Last update: 05/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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