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Paper 12 - 4 June 1999 Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

4 June 1999

ANNUAL REPORT

Report by Policy Manager

RECOMMENDATION

That this Annual Report be published in the form of a Newsletter giving information about HIOW and its work.

SUMMARY

HIOW has added value to member authorities in its first two years. It has

provided a platform from which individual authorities can have a real say in regional affairs

assisted its members to prepare for, respond to, and influence the Government's agenda

helped to develop a consensus amongst elected members so that the best results for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight can be achieved in fields as diverse as planning and the environment, health and community safety.

At a time when regional institutions are developing, HIOW has enabled local authorities to form a strong sub-regional identity in central southern England, forging cross-border links with Bournemouth/Poole, with the Thames Valley Region and with Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

INTRODUCTION

1. HIOW's Constitution requires that a report on the work and costs of HIOW be considered at each Annual Meeting. This report provides an assessment of the work of HIOW in its second year. It recommends that the annual report be published in the form of a newsletter.

COSTS

2. HIOW has carefully monitored its costs, and a separate report gives an up-to-date assessment of income and expenditure for the current and forthcoming financial years (the financial year being from June to May, to allow the Annual Meeting to decide the budget after the May elections). The Honorary Treasurer will provide a final report for 1998/99 when the accounts are closed.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF REGIONAL INSTITUTIONS

3. HIOW authorities were influential in establishing the South East Regional Forum (SERF) two years ago. They have now taken a substantial role in establishing the South East England Regional Assembly (SEERA). HIOW has provided a platform from which leading members of local authorities can decide what institutions they want, and what they want them to do. HIOW has ensured that the voice of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight has been developed at the sub-regional level and articulated at the regional level - through the Government Office for the South East, through SERF and in the new institutions.

4. HIOW and its member authorities have worked closely together to ensure that the new South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) has a good picture of the strengths of, and opportunities in, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Allan Willett CMG, Chairman of SEEDA, met HIOW members shortly after his appointment in November 1998. He spent two days in February meeting Hampshire key players and has also visited the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton.

REGIONAL PLANNING IN THE SOUTH EAST

5. HIOW's SERPLAN Co-ordination Group has provided, for the first time, a meeting in which members and staff on SERPLAN from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight authorities can ensure that their voice and activities within the SERPLAN organisation are co-ordinated. HIOW not only played a part in developing SERPLAN'S consultation documents, but also prepared detailed responses on behalf of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

IMPROVING LOCAL GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPING BEST VALUE

6. HIOW has supported the work of the ILG Steering Group in the county of Hampshire. This Group represents Hampshire County Council, the 11 District Councils, Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils and Community Action Hampshire. The Steering Group has reviewed joint work in the fields of:-

recreation, heritage and tourism

trading standards and environmental health

information to elected members

protecting the countryside

Three District Councils (New Forest, Eastleigh and East Hampshire) are piloting new arrangements for highways maintenance and this work will be reviewed next year.

7. The District Auditor is facilitating further joint work between the County Council and District Councils, on integrated transport, community safety and other areas of immediate joint concern.

8. The County, Unitary and District Authorities have established a Joint Customer Service Development Group and asked the Group to report further on:

the development of minimum standards for customer service across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

the development programme for joint information points to include proposals for enhancing joint training and development of frontline reception and telephonist staff.

9. A local authority Telecoms Group has been formed to get better value out of telecoms and mobile phones in particular. Better value from telephony will enable local authorities to provide a better service to residents and tax payers through interactive facilities on digital television and the Internet.

10. Alongside better integration of telecoms, runs the development of a unified telephone and E-mail directory for public sector services in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight - the prototype can be seen on the Hampshire Community Network (www.hcn) under 'Contacts'.

11. The authorities have continued to develop links between their websites to facilitate customer service. However the Hampshire Community Network site on the world wide web has not yet proved to be a useful tool for the public and will be reviewed in the coming year.

12. HIOW has participated in the development of thinking about Best Value, and we have now seen the Government put forward legislation. The HIOW Best Value Network led by Test Valley Borough Council has shared best practice and enabled non-pilot authorities to keep closely in touch with developments, and with others involved such as District Audit, the Local Government Association and the Local Government Information Unit.

13. HIOW has a policy of making the best use of staff jointly between authorities. Hampshire County Council has led the way by achieving funds from the Training and Enterprise Council to develop a mentoring scheme jointly with other Hampshire authorities. Isle of Wight staff are included in this scheme if they live on the mainland. Authorities are also co-operating through the South East Employers organisation to develop joint Member training. The Personnel Officers' Group will be working to develop these initiatives, introduce others, and monitor the extent of joint working.

MAJOR POLICY AREAS

14. Hampshire Structure Plan Review

HIOW has worked to encourage as much consensus as possible between Structure Plan authorities. In particular HIOW has worked to encourage consultation between the Structure Plan authorities and the District Councils. HIOW recommended that the District Councils meet to consider their position and as a result all 11 District Councils of Hampshire signed up to an agreed position on the Structure Plan Review in October 1998. The three strategic planning authorities agreed on a way forward in February 1999 and now draft modifications have been published.

15. Integrated Transport

HIOW commissioned a presentation by Professor Mike McDonald from the University of Southampton on the opportunities for integrated transport. Hampshire County Council and the District Councils have set up a joint working group on this subject. It is hoped that the four major transport authorities will make progress together in preparing their local transport plans in the coming year.

16. Local Agenda 21

The HIOW Environmental Co-ordinators' Group together with the Chief Executive of Test Valley Borough Council and an outside consultant made a presentation to HIOW and the authorities generally have Local Agenda 21 very much integrated with their other strategies and policies. Further reports will be made to HIOW on this issue.

17. Economic Development

HIOW made a detailed input to the Economic Statement for the South East, drawn up by the SERF. The authorities' economic development staff drew up a briefing note for SEEDA on key development priorities for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Subsequently the Hampshire Economic Partnership (HEP) and the Island Regeneration Partnership (IRP) have developed complementary responses to SEEDA's consultation on the contents of the Regional Economic Strategy. HIOW will be commenting in detail on the draft Regional Economic Strategy during summer 1999. Leading work on economic development has been done by HEP and IRP, and the role of HIOW has been to appoint members to HEP and to receive reports-back.

18. Social Inclusion

HIOW arranged a major debate on this subject in March 1999 and will be setting up a group of staff from across the area to exchange ideas and best practice. This group is expected to work as a network, rather like the Best Value Network. It will pick up on the suggestions made during the debate in March.

19. Health

HIOW considered the development of joint working with the Health Authorities and in particular adopted guiding principles for developing Health Improvement Programmes which are set out on our website. HIOW has lobbied the Government on the acute shortage of NHS dental services in Hampshire. HIOW has also given its full backing to the retention of Haslar Hospital in Gosport.

20. Community Safety

HIOW facilitated the establishment of new co-operative structures between the Police Authority, Probation and other partners. This consultative mechanism is working well, with the Chief Executives of Basingstoke and Deane, New Forest and Hampshire County Council keeping other Chief Executives informed and regularly reporting back to full HIOW meetings.

21. Modernising Government

HIOW has closely followed the national debate on modernising local government and has responded in detail to the Government consultations. Responses are shown on our website. We are also taking part in the debate about House of Lords Reform.

22. Strategic Defence Review

HIOW has considered the implications of the Strategic Defence Review, and has vehemently supported the campaign to retain hospital facilities in Gosport.

23. European Funding

HIOW has supported the Isle of Wight's case for "Objective 2" status in order to obtain European funding.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION

24. HIOW has administered the electoral college through which appointments are made to the LGA. We have encouraged LGA committees to improve the report-back and consultation arrangements on a regional basis. For this purpose we have been working on a "six-county" (Kent to Hampshire) sub-region, and this sub-region will form the basis for any future LGA electoral college.

25. HIOW has received regular reports-back from its District members, particularly from the Transport and Economic Regeneration Committees.

REPORTS-BACK FROM LOCAL ORGANISATIONS

26. HIOW appoints representatives of District Councils to a number of local organisations. Reports-back were received from:

Committee for Rural Hampshire

Hampshire Early Years Partnership

Hampshire Voluntary Housing Association

HIOW WORKING ARRANGEMENTS

27. HIOW was set up in 1997 following local government reorganisation. Staff were initially appointed on two year contracts. Staff have now been given permanent contracts. The HIOW office will be based at Eastleigh Borough Council for the foreseeable future.

29 A working protocol for the HIOW "lead" arrangements was approved and is now in operation. This ensures that Lead Officers are drawn from the relevant authorities.

NICK GOULDER 
Policy Manager

ABBREVIATIONS

HEP Hampshire Economic Partnership
HIOW Association of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authorities
ILG Improving Local Governance
IRP Island Regeneration Partnership
LGA Local Government Association
SEEDA South East England Regional Development Agency
SERF South East Regional Forum
SERPLAN London and South East Regional Planning Conference

Last update: 11/10/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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