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Paper 13 - 29 January 1999 Meeting

AT A MEETING of the HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL/HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COUNCILS IMPROVING LOCAL GOVERNANCE STEERING GROUP held at The Castle, Winchester on 20 November 1998

PRESENT

Hampshire County Council

Councillors: F.A.J. Emery-Wallis, DL (Chairman); B.D. Dash; A.W. Rice, TD; W.H. Wheeler

P.C.B. Robertson (Chief Executive); J.D.K. Ekins, OBE (County Surveyor); R. Dorritt (Area Surveyor East); R. Goldup (Head of Fair Trading)

Hampshire District Councils

Councillors:
J. Evans (Basingstoke and Deane)
D. Clark (East Hampshire)
K. House (Eastleigh)
A. Haywald (Gosport)
P. Hutcheson (Hart)
R.V. Bellinger (Havant)
J. Coles (New Forest)
A. Thame (Rushmoor)
B. Palmer (Test Valley)
D. Attwell (Winchester);

Jacky Adams (Winchester City Council); P Bowden (Fareham Borough Council); M. Crocker (Chief Executive, Gosport,), G Jelbart (Chief Executive, Hart); A. Lloyd (Chief Executive, Rushmoor); Katrine Sporle (Chief Executive, Basingstoke and Deane); I. Mackintosh (Managing Director, New Forest); Daphne Gardner (East Hampshire); A. Jones (Chief Executive, Test Valley); N.H. Goulder (H&I.O.W. ALA Policy Officer).

Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils

Suzanne Hudson; Jean Pittfield.

10. MINUTES

The Minutes of the meeting held on 24 June 1998 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

11. HIGHWAY MANAGEMENT ISSUES

The Steering Group considered the report of the Chief Executive (Item 2 in the Minute Book) following the decision of the County Council's Performance Review Sub-Committee to review the highways agency arrangements in the context of Best Value and the issues facing the County Council in relation to highways maintenance. The Steering Group welcomed the early opportunity for views to be exchanged. The consensus was that a collaborative approach was necessary and that members should be closely involved. In this respect it was considered important to build on existing consultative arrangements rather than create new forums. The County Council was committed to working closely with the district councils and the Chief Executive undertook to develop proposals for taking the agency review forward including opportunities at grass roots level for parish and town council involvement.

RESOLVED:

That the County Council's plans to review its funding of highway maintenance and the effectiveness of its highways agency arrangements and to consult with the district councils and other local agencies be supported in the context of Best Value and accountable service delivery.

12. COUNTY/DISTRICT HIGHWAYS TRIALS UPDATE

The Steering Group considered the report of the County Surveyor (Item 3 in the Minute Book) on progress with the highways trials in the areas of East Hampshire District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and Test Valley Borough Council. The County Surveyor gave more detail to illustrate how the County Council was collaborating with the district councils and parish councils. Work was proceeding well. The trials were most advanced in East Hampshire. The Steering Group accepted that the work in hand was the first step towards the goal of greater awareness and accountability and that much remained to be done. The prospects were promising. The Steering Group wished to place on record its appreciation of the efforts of the County Surveyor and his staff in bringing highways matters closer to the community through the trial schemes.

13. CRIME AND DISORDER ACT PROGRESS

The Steering Group considered the joint report of the Chief Executives of the County Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and New Forest District Council on progress with implementation of the Crime and Disorder Act (Item 4 in the Minute Book). The main strands of the legislation were the setting up of a multi-disciplinary youth offending team and the preparation of local crime and disorder reduction strategies. The Wessex Youth Offending Team was one of only four national pilot schemes and had been launched at the end of September. Lessons learnt from the pilot would be incorporated into the permanent arrangements to operate from 1 April 2000. Expectations in the community were high and effective local joint working between all of the agencies involved would be crucial to success.

Good progress was being made with the 11 Audits by the district councils who were working together with the County Council to mutual advantage and it was anticipated that all the strategies would be in place by 1 April 1999. It was important to share experience and best practice and to avoid duplication of effort which could arise from working in isolation. In line two of the audit progress schedule "Fareham" was substituted for the second reference in the schedule to "Eastleigh".

14. LOCAL BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP SCHEMES

The Steering Group considered the report of the Head of Fair Trading (Item 5 in the Minute Book) about local business partnerships. There were two partnership schemes operating in Hampshire: one in Basingstoke and one in Hart/Rushmoor. Whilst envisaged originally as partnerships between business and local authority regulators, the Hampshire schemes were more widely based and included central government agencies such as the Health and Safety Executive and consumer groups such as citizens advice bureaux. The Steering Group welcomed the benefits for business deriving from the support being given through the partnership arrangements and supported the work being done to develop a new business standards partnership.

15. INFORMATION TO DISTRICT COUNCIL MEMBERS

The Steering Group considered the report of the Director of Education (Item 6 in the Minute Book) pursuant to Minute 5 of the previous meeting. the report explained in detail the

arrangements made by the County Council to provide information about its education service to all district councils.

Members' attention was drawn to the opportunities which IT developments had given the County Council to make widely available in advance and in the public domain information about business to be transacted by the Council. Its website and Hantsnet, in addition to providing access to agenda, minutes and reports of Council, committee, sub-committee and panel meetings, also gave access to extensive information about the County Council and its services and contacts in departments. The Chief Executive suggested that, to supplement the County Council's information systems, the district councils might consider making their own arrangements at Chief Executive/senior management level for regular dialogue with key staff of the County Council.

It was agreed to review progress in relation to the Education Department's information services to district councils at the next meeting.

16. INFORMATION TO COUNTY COUNCILLORS FROM THE DISTRICT COUNCILS

The Steering Group considered the report of the Chief Executive (Item 7 in the Minute Book) about the need for the district councils to keep county councillors in their areas informed about and involved in district council business. Practices varied and the County Council requested the district councils to review their procedures and to report to the next meeting with details of the service they provided for county councillors. The County Council requested in particular that the arrangements include briefing members on progress with regard to the achievement of structure plan housing provision. It was also considered that more explicit summonses to district council meetings would give members of the County Council more information about business to be dealt with. The Chairman commended the précis agenda format developed by the County Council which had proved a valuable source for identifying current issues and challenges facing the County Council and giving the public notice of controversial issues.

Last update: 22/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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