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ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES
24 July 1998
LGA ECONOMIC REGENERATION COMMITTEE - 22 APRIL 1998
Note by Councillor Roger Price (Leader, Fareham Borough Council)
A meeting of the Local Government Association's Economic Regeneration Committee was held in London on 22 April 1998. Items discussed included the following:
The Committee considered a draft report on "Enabling Community Enterprise" and the role and development of Credit Unions within the UK. Particular attention was drawn to local government efforts to develop community enterprise initiatives, which are seen by the Government as an important ingredient in helping communities to help themselves. Examples quoted included local child care schemes; community launderettes; environmental and arts projects; and leisure and food co-operatives.Credit Unions, through which loans can be made to their members to develop initiatives aimed at bringing social or economic benefits, are regarded by a number of authorities as an important element of promoting local community enterprise. Discussion took place about ways in which local authorities can become involved in and promote these across the whole of their areas, rather than concentrating solely on deprived communities.It was agreed to endorse the draft report and encourage other relevant LGA committees and task groups to take note of its findings and recommendations.
The Committee considered a draft policy paper on Business Support, underlining the importance of local government developing a clear policy stance in relation to the various business support services operating in the UK. The paper identified the need to ensure that, in its relationship with these support services, local government promotes the needs of local businesses and concentrates on securing service quality and effectiveness, rather than operational or management expedients.The draft paper was agreed as a basis for consultation and will be issued to all member authorities for comment. The consultation process is likely to include an LGA conference, to be held in October or November.
The Committee received a report updating them on the LGA's work on RDA issues since the publication of the Government's White Paper and Bill in December. Three particular areas of concern were identified - the fact that the RDA/Regional Chamber relationship is currently conceived only in terms of consultation; the ability the RDAs will have in reality to influence regional programmes; and the role envisaged for the Government Regional Offices following the creation of RDAs.The report was noted and authority was given for the officers to submit the comments received from member authorities, as summarised in an attached function paper, together with those of the Association's RDA Task Group, to the Government.
The Work of English Partnerships
The Committee discussed a report summarising the results of consultation with member authorities on the role and functions of English Partnerships in relation to land reclamation. Criticism had been voiced at earlier meetings about English Partnerships being too remote, bureaucratic and unable to offer constructive assistance. However, reports from other local authorities had shown that experience varied considerably according to geographical location. It was agreed to:lobby Government on the future role, functions and operation of English Partnerships with particular reference to their approval procedures, resources, staffing levels, overall objectives and output;lobby for the establishment of English Partnership teams dedicated to local authority reclamation programmes;seek to clarify the roles and relationships between English Partnerships and local authorities and how these are likely to change under RDAs.
The Committee received a report outlining some of the key issues surrounding inward investment. It was agreed to arrange discussions between members of the Committee and regional representatives with a view to taking forward a policy to:promote the key role of local authorities in obtaining inward investment;clarify best practices and the role of inward investment agencies, including the role proposed for the new RDAs.
Welfare to Work
The Committee received a report giving an update on developments in relation to the two main strands of the Government's Welfare to Work programme - the New Deal for 18 to 24 Year-olds and the New Deal for the Long-term Unemployed. Note was taken of the key themes which have been pursued by the LGA to date in its responses to the programme:the need for as flexible an approach as possible;the need to ensure that young people going on the programme do not suffer financially and have access to high quality benefits advice;the encouragement of close working with the Department of the Education and Employment and other sectors involved in identifying and disseminating good practice.It was agreed to endorse the views expressed by the LGA's Welfare to Work Task Group to:welcome the proposed pilots of a more ambitious approach to helping the long term unemployed;continue to argue that the basic programme for the long term unemployed is inadequate to meet their needs;press the Government to ensure that the proposed pilots build on partnerships which have been put in place and are integrated with other policies and programmes.
New Commitment to Regeneration
The Committee considered a report summarising the progress which has been made to date on regeneration issues and were reminded of the key elements of 'New Commitment' i.e:it provides a means of marshalling public expenditure in support of regeneration issues;it is concerned with regeneration in its widest sense, including social and economic issues;it is based on the preparation of a comprehensive regeneration strategy, at local authority level;it aims to establish a new relationship between central government and local partnerships, particularly in terms of local accountability.It was noted that:three regional seminars had been held, in Birmingham, London and Leeds;a 'New Commitment' Development Group comprising national representatives from the public, private, community and voluntary sectors had been formed;a 'Regeneration Research Summary' has been published by the DETR;the LGA are currently involved in a joint research exercise with the Health Education Authority on public health and regeneration.
Review of Structural Funds
The Committee discussed the action taken since the last meeting on the review of the EU Structural Funds. Although there are areas in the review which accord with the LGA's position, it was agreed that it was important for the LGA to continue lobbying to ensure that the UK regions receive fair treatment, particularly in respect of:the need to include GDP in the eligibility criteria, to enable deprivation in the regions to be properly recognised;the importance of Community Initiatives in local areas;the better integration of EU funds in regional regeneration strategies where local government can lead local partnerships.
Training and Enterprise Councils
The Committee received a report on the relationship between local authorities and Training and Enterprise Councils on economic development.It was agreed that a paper should be prepared by the Committee's advisers, for approval by the six political office holders, to deal with:highlighting and promoting examples of good partnership and joint working;the impact on economic development working of changes to the institutional framework, including merges of TECs, and changes in local government structure;the impact of RDAs and the delivery of business support.
Economic Regeneration Conference
Members may like to note that the next annual Economic Regeneration Conference will be held at the Guildhall, Portsmouth on 16 to 18 November 1998. Preliminary details will be issued shortly.
COUNCILLOR ROGER PRICE
Leader, Fareham Borough Council
|Author:||Nick Goulder, Policy Manager|
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