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Paper 6 -  29 June 2001Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

29 June 2001

THE ASSOCIATION’S ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2000/2001

Report by the Policy Manager

_______________________________________________________________________

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the Annual Report be publicised, giving information about the Association and its work;

(2) That reports-back from Outside Bodies be included in the Association’s bulletins rather than automatically put on the agenda; and

(3) That Councillors David Curtis (Fareham) and Mrs Maureen Robinson (New Forest) be thanked for their reports-back.

_______________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

1. The Association’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 the Association in its fourth year. It recommends that the Annual Report be published in the form of a bulletin, because it forms a useful means of communication with Member authorities and partners.

ACHIEVEMENTS

2. Over the past year, the Association has:

* been the voice for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in regional and national debates on housing and planning, modernising local government, and other topics of the day

* provided a political (Member level) framework for extensive partnership working between the local authorities and the rest of the public sector in order to join up government across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the interests of the tax payer and consumer

* discussed the implementation of new Government policy such as the Urban and Rural White Papers, and made representations both at regional and national level on new legislation

* provided a forum for considering jointly the impact of such major events as the fuel crisis, flooding and foot and mouth disease

* reduced subscription levels to Member authorities whilst improving service levels to our Members

* acted as a forum for District Council representatives on outside bodies (such as the Committee for Rural Hampshire) to report-back.

The report expands and explains each of these points after a brief review of the organisation.

ORGANISATION AND COSTS

3. The Association met six times at Member level during the year. Some of these meetings took the form of seminars and break-out sessions to make best use of the time available. Behind the scenes some 20 officer groups (annex 1) developed joint working across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

4. During the year the Association produced two Bulletins letting partner organisations know about its work. All the Association’s papers were made public and are shown on our website (www.hiow.gov.uk). This increased public profile of the Association has been achieved within budget having reduced the level of subscriptions. The full costs of the Association are given in a separate report by the Honorary Treasurer.

5. The Chairman of the Association elected for the year was Councillor David Gillett, Chairman of Policy and Resources Committee at Havant Borough Council. Under the constitution, the Chief Executive of the Chairman’s authority chairs the Chief Executives’ Group and is the Honorary Secretary of the Association. This post was held by Robin Smith, Chief Executive of Havant Borough Council, who provided line management support to the Association’s staff for the year.

6. The Association employed one full time Policy Manager, Nick Goulder, and a part time Personal Assistant/Office Administrator, Diane Allen. These staff are based at the Civic Offices, Eastleigh. Eastleigh Borough Council provides the Association’s accountancy and office support services. The Borough Treasurer, Nick Tustian, is the Association’s Treasurer. The Isle of Wight Council Treasurer, John Pulsford, is the Association’s Honorary Auditor.

VOICE FOR HAMPSHIRE AND THE ISLE OF WIGHT

7, During the year the Association made representations to central government and to others as follows:

Planning

* opposed the high level of housing growth proposed for our area in the regional planning guidance

* argued for fiscal measures to discourage green field development and encourage "urban renaissance". The Chancellor made some overtures in this direction in the Budget.

Finance

* called for a continuation of the area cost adjustment which compensates authorities for the extra costs of operating in South East England

* welcomed the Government’s proposals for reform of the local authority revenue grant system

* argued that local authorities should be able to retain income from additional council tax on second homes

* sought to be able to increase fees to cover the full cost of planning applications.

Health

* pressed the Government for adequate funding for the NHS, drawing attention to under-funding particularly in North and Mid Hampshire.

Licensing Laws

* welcomed proposals to modernise the licensing laws

* sought a single integrated scheme for licensing premises - including licences for the sale of alcohol, public entertainment, betting and gaming.

Protecting Children

* supported Portsmouth City Council’s call for strengthened powers to protect vulnerable young people from potentially dangerous offenders.

PARTNERSHIP WORKING

8. The Association has encouraged the development of effective partnerships to "join up" government across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Representatives of central and regional government have attended Association meetings, as have others such as the Learning and Skills Council and Environment Agency. The voluntary sector regularly attends Association meetings, and the Associations of Parish and Town Councils are full members of this Association. Particular examples of developing partnership working during the year were:

Community Strategies: agreeing a framework for community strategies and public consultation involving strategic partners.

Supporting People: the Association has set up a joint County/District partnership forum to manage this new funding mechanism for people in supported housing in Hampshire.

Best Value: the Association helped Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils to run a conference for parish councils on the "Spirit of Best Value". The Association runs a Best Value Network bringing in local authorities across the area plus HAPTC, District Audit and the Best Value inspectorate.

Health: the Association approved plans for all local authorities in Hampshire to work through the Corporate Health Group chaired by Hampshire County Council in developing the partnership between housing, social services and health.

LIAISON WITH CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

9. Under the central/local partnership at national level, the LGA and Government ministers are working together to improve liaison. Locally, this means that senior civil servants from Whitehall are made available to attend Association meetings to explain and discuss Government policy. In addition, the Association’s Policy Manager is part of the DETR Local Government Modernisation Team.

10. The Association invited the heads of the Urban and Rural Divisions at DETR to attend discussions on the Urban and Rural White Papers respectively. On both occasions the civil servants concerned had to send their apologies because of parliamentary and other urgent business. This disappointing start has been communicated to the Local Government Association.

11. On a more positive note, the Association hosted a regional seminar on Anti-Drugs Policy. The National Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator, Keith Hellawell, discussed policy with leading Members and staff across South East England.

FORUM FOR LEADING MEMBERS

12. The Association has provided a forum for Members to discuss issues of the day and share experience. A seminar was hosted by Test Valley Borough Council at Cricklade College last July to discuss the role of the non-Executive Member. Thus the Association entered the national debate on this important new issue at an early stage, and produced guidelines for authorities. Subsequently, seminars were held on Anti-Drugs policy and on e-Government. The major decisions and debates took place in the course of regular bi-monthly meetings. Particular issues discussed were:

Transport: the Association considered the four transport plans (Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton and Hampshire) and called for a radical experiment to see if shoppers and commuters can be persuaded from cars onto other forms of transport. The Borough of Basingstoke and Deane was asked to carry out this experiment. The Borough Council has therefore commissioned a transport study with support from Hampshire County Council. Whilst the aim of the study is to consider radical approaches, proposals for the experiment will be designed to meet local needs.

Fuel crisis and flooding: the year has been characterised by crises. The Association is now seeking to ensure that better and more consistent information can be made available for the public from the start when a major national or series of local emergencies develop. The Hampshire County Council Emergency Planning Officer attended an Association meeting to consider the fuel crisis and the flooding problems last November. A further report has been commissioned for the forthcoming year.

E-government: the Association has adopted a Hampshire Public Services Network programme led by the County Council Chief Executive, Peter Robertson.

Funding for Councils of Voluntary Service: the Association has provided a forum for discussion of a new funding formula for Councils of Voluntary Service.

Learning and Skills Council: the new Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council attended an Association meeting to meet leading Members and emphasised the importance of close working between the LSC and local authorities. The Association also received a report on the related Connexions programme which brings together the youth service and careers service with other partners to give more coherent support to young people. Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is a national pilot area.

REPORTS-BACK FROM OUTSIDE BODIES TO LOCAL AUTHORITY MEMBERS

13. The following reports-back have been received from District Council members attending Outside bodies:

Outside Body

Report-back by

Dates of reports-back

Committee for Rural Hampshire

Councillors Tony Jackson (Test Valley) and Susan Band (Hart)

26 January 2001

Early Years Development Partnership

Councillor Mike Roberts (Rushmoor)

29 September 2000

Hampshire Economic Partnership

Andrew Lloyd, Chief Executive (Rushmoor)

24 November 2000

LGA Social Affairs and Health Committee

Councillor Mrs Maureen Robinson (New Forest)

2 June 2000, 29 September 2000, 26 January 2001, 23 March and 29 June 2001

Southern Regional Environmental Protection Advisory Committee

Councillor Mrs Brenda Smith (New Forest.

23 March 2001

Regional Assembly Area Cost Adjustment Steering Group

Councillor Brian Palmer (Test Valley)

24 November 2000

Hampshire Playing Fields Association

Councillor David Curtis (Fareham)

29 June 2001

14. In order to keep agenda shorter, reports-back will normally be circulated in bulletins in future. Members can ask for any particular issues to be raised at meetings of the Association. Since the last bulletin, Councillor David Curtis has provided a report-back on the Hampshire Playing Fields Association which is given in Annex 2, and Councillor Mrs Maureen Robinson has reported on the LGA Social Affairs and Health Committee which is given in Annex 3.

NICK GOULDER
Policy Manager

Date: 21 May 2001
Annex: 3
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiow@eastleigh.gov.uk

ANNEX 1

PRINCIPAL HAMPSHIRE, PORTSMOUTH, SOUTHAMPTON AND ISLE OF WIGHT

PROFESSIONAL OFFICER GROUPS

Name of Group

Chair

Name of Group

Chair

Chief Executives’ Group (Association Support)

Havant

Public Relations Officers’ Group

(Rotates each meeting)

Chief Financial Officers’ Group

East Hampshire

Joint Supplies Group

(Rotates each meeting)

Secretaries and Directors of Administration

Test Valley

Customer Services Development Group

(Rotates each meeting)

Planning Officers’ Group

Hampshire

Estates Officers’ Group

Southampton

Hampshire District Engineers’ Group

Hart

Best Value Network

Test Valley

Strategic Housing Group

Portsmouth

Hampshire Policy and Performance Network

Southampton

Chief Environmental Officers’ Group

Rushmoor

Hampshire Sustainability Co-ordinators’ Network

(Rotates each meeting)

Hampshire Personnel Officers’ Group

New Forest

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Pest Control Liaison Committee

Havant

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Building Control Officers’ Group

Havant

Hampshire and Isle of wight Economic Development Officers’ Network

Hampshire

IT Officers’ Group

Gosport

Hampshire Landscape Officers’ Group

Eastleigh

Telecoms Group

Rushmoor

Community Safety Officers’ Network

Southampton

ANNEX 2

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

29 June 2001

HAMPSHIRE PLAYING FIELDS ASSOCIATION

Report-back by Councillor David Curtis (Fareham)

1. The Playing Fields Association continues to contribute in a financially modest but very effective way, to the support of children’s play, local recreation schemes and voluntary sport throughout Hampshire. A measure of its success is that this year is the 75th year since its initiation, a milestone that is to be suitably marked at the AGM to be held in November.

2.There can be very few corners of the county that have not felt the benefit, not only by means of financial support, but also by advice and assistance of a technical nature which has helped imaginative ideas become a reality. the Association is also able to report considerable investment as a consultee for various National Lottery application.

3. Whilst maintaining support for traditional sports, the Association fully recognises the increasing importance of the newer adrenaline sports such as rollerblading, skate-boarding and BMX cycling to young people. Assistance in the provision of facilities for these activities will remain high on the agenda.

4. The Association has revised its Grants and Loans Strategy and is taking steps to maximise its financial resources. Membership subscriptions which have not been revised for 10 years are to be increased and reviewed annually in future.

5. The continued commitment of Hampshire County Council and Portsmouth City Council, without which the Association could not continue to operate effectively, is much appreciated. The continued lack of commitment, for whatever reason, of Southampton City Council is very much regretted.

COUNCILLOR DAVID CURTIS
Fareham Borough Council

Date: 18 May 2001
Annex: 0
Contact: Councillor David Curtis - 01329 824300

ANNEX 3

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

29 June 2001

SOCIAL AFFAIRS AND HEALTH EXECUTIVE

Report by Councillor Maureen Robinson (New Forest District Council)

Although the Executive has not formally met recently, a fair bit of work continues either within the task groups or through e-mail and correspondence.

THE HEALTH BILL

1. Prior to the dissolution of Parliament, the Government was keen to get the Health Bill enacted. The LGA had lobbied heavily to reform CHC’s rather than abolish them and so was happy with the new clause 12 (establishing Patients Councils), which had been incorporated as the Bill entered its Third Reading in the Lords. This was then superseded by successful amendments in the Lords retaining Community Health Councils.

2. The Government declared its intention to oppose the Lords amendments until it became clear that the Bill would not complete its progress before dissolution. As a result Government opposition was dropped. However, the implications for the enhanced scrutiny role of Local Authorities are now unclear. Clarification is being sought and I will pass on any further information as soon as I am able.

3. Meanwhile the future of care trusts has been secured with the passage of the Bill. The removal of the power to impose a care trust was welcomed, but we were informed that the LGA’s concerns about accountability and governance arrangements for these trusts are to be dealt with in guidance and regulations. The LGA has commissioned external experts in the field of local government and social care law to support it in this work, with a task group taking the lead on behalf of the SA&H Executive.

THE LEADERSHIP OF DRUG ACTION TEAMS

4. The LGA has been leading discussions with national representatives of organisations represented on DATs to consider reasons why Local Authorities should be given responsibility for the leadership of Drug Action Teams.

5. The basis for this argument is that LAs are central to action against drugs. No longer can drug problems be seen as either a health or a crime issue in which the LA has only a marginal responsibility and interest. Services provided by LA’s are central to tackling drugs especially when placed alongside the power to promote social economic and environmental well being.

6. Discussions continue to progress this.

JOINT SEMINARS WITH NHS CONFEDERATION

7. In the light of the increasing partnership agenda, over the summer, the NHS Confederation and the LGA are running a series of 8 events aimed at improving understanding between leaders of NHS management and local government. Delegates who have been invited to the events are non-executive directors of health service organisations and local councillors. The event for the SE region will be on 25th July, in London.

COUNCILLOR MAUREEN ROBINSON
New Forest District Council

Date: 21 May 2001
Annex: 0
Contact: Councillor Maureen Robinson - 023 8028 5478

Last update: 20/06/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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