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Paper 9 - 27 March 1998 Meeting 

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

27 March 1998

LGA ECONOMIC REGENERATION COMMITTEE - 21 JANUARY 1998

Note by Councillor Roger Price, Leader of Fareham Borough Council

RECOMMENDATION

To note the report

1. A meeting of the Local Government Association's Economic Regeneration Committee was held in London on 21 January 1998. Items discussed included the following:

CORPORATE POLICY

2. The Committee received a paper identifying those of the LGA's corporate policy issues which impact on economic regeneration. Particular attention was drawn to the Government's proposals for local authorities to build a "Best Value" regime and the work on community safety to extend local initiatives to prevent crime and disorder. It was agreed that the Committee's core advisers should be asked to assist the LGA Secretariat by gathering information on the development of best value and other initiatives within economic regeneration services, for input into LGA activity.

REGIONALISM

3. The Committee considered a report updating members on recent developments concerning regional policy, in particular the publication of the Government's Regional Development Agency White Paper and Bill. It was explained that, although the LGA broadly welcomed the Government's approach, especially the formal recognition proposed for Regional Chambers and the earmarking of places on RDA boards for local authority members, there are the following concerns:

the proposed relationship between the RDAs and chambers will be consultative, rather than through clear lines of responsibility;

in too many cases the role of the RDAs will be advisory, rather than having direct influence over relevant programmes;

there appears to be no clear vision of the role or structure of the Government Offices for the Regions.

4. It was noted that the LGA has given evidence on the Government's proposals to the House of Commons Select Committee and will be aiming to provide guidance to local authorities on a number of related issues, including the likely arrangements for seeking nominations to RDA boards.

WELFARE TO WORK - THE NEW DEAL

5. The Committee received a report outlining the Government's proposals on Welfare to Work and the LGA's response. It was noted that the LGA is pursuing a number of key points and is seeking, in particular, to:

influence Government thinking on the New Deal for the Long Term Unemployed

secure the involvement of local authorities in the New Deal for Lone Parent pilots

influence the implementation of the prototype Employment Zones.

REGENERATION POLICY

6. A report was discussed outlining progress on the LGA's 'New Commitment to Regeneration' proposals and the latest position in relation to the Single Regeneration Budget Round 4. Key elements of the 'New Commitment' proposals are:

a reaffirmation of the need for local regeneration to be undertaken by and through local partnerships;

a recognition that local regeneration strategies should be comprehensive, jointly owned by the relevant partners and supported by binding agreements between them;

a recognition of the need for all relevant agencies to participate fully in the regeneration process;

an intention to seek the early establishment of 'pathfinder' projects, for monitoring and evaluating.

7. The Committee gave particular attention to the development of partnership working arrangements. It was noted that partnership working is now the norm for many authorities but that:

in many areas the scope of partnership working would have to be broadened to fit in with the 'New Commitment' approach;

the nature and style of partnerships may need to be refined to create binding commitments between the parties;

there may need to be some form of independent audit as a way of ensuring that partners fulfil their commitments;

there must be a two-way process with the partnership's strategy, policies and objectives being reflected in each partner's business plan.

8. On the subject of the Single Regeneration Budget, it was noted that 371 outline bids for funding under Round 4 have been received by the Government Offices for the Regions. These were in the process of being evaluated to determine the extent to which they met the objectives and criteria of the Challenge Fund and would merit working up into final bids. It was expected that announcements of the successful bids would be made shortly.

FUTURE OF THE STRUCTURAL FUNDS

9. The Committee noted a report outlining the recent action taken by the LGA in preparing a response to the European Union's paper 'Agenda 2000'. The Task Group established by the LGA to prepare this response had produced an initial reaction and were planning early discussions to produce detailed views on:

the regulations governing each of the existing Fund objectives;

eligibility criteria;

the management of the Structural Funds.

It was agreed that a further report on these issues should be made to the next meeting.

BUSINESS LINK: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

10. At its meeting in May 1997, the Committee endorsed the LGA's policy statement on enhancing the support given to local businesses by the network of Business Links. The statement argued that Business Links should be lean organisations, concentrating on a range of core activities and working in partnership with other organisations in order to provide a high quality network of local business support services. Since then, the government had outlined its vision for the future, in a statement by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Firms. The Committee noted that the Government believes Business Links should:

be one stop shops where businesses can get all the help or advice they need, and not just another local agency adding to the confusion arising from the proliferation of economic development bodies;

develop a customer focused, entrepreneurial and commercial culture;

have a commitment to continuous improvement;

provide a service for all small and medium sized enterprises.

11. The Committee also noted that the LGA is in the process of preparing a policy paper on business support. This will form the basis of its response to the consultation paper produced by the British Chambers of Commerce, which proposes the establishment of a Chamber-like body to provide business support in the UK. It was hoped that a draft would be available for the next meeting.

DRAFT LGA POLICY STATEMENT 'A RURAL STRATEGY'

12. The Committee discussed the draft of the LGA's policy vision for rural areas. It was felt that more work could be done on developing the economic regeneration aspects of the draft Strategy and it was accordingly agreed that advisers to the Committee and the Rural Commission should be asked to meet, discuss this part of the paper and put forward further ideas.

STOCKTAKE OF WORK IN PROGRESS

13. The Committee received information reports on:

the LGA's first annual Economic Regeneration Conference held in Scarborough between 18-20 November 1997;

local authority involvement in the working groups appointed by the President of the Board of Trade to operate under the new Competitiveness Advisory Group;

liaison arrangements between the LGA and the TEC National Council;

proposals for a review of Inward Investment Policies;

the preparation of a policy report on community enterprises;

ministerial consultative arrangements in the environment and development area.

FUTURE MEETINGS

14. A series of regional meetings between the Chair of the Committee and local authorities are in the process of being arranged. Future meetings of the Committee will be held on:

22 April 1998
4 November 1998
13 January 1999

Last update: 08/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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