some important public services has won support from the government.
And this project is just the first of many involving all ten councils in
passenger transport authorities, aimed at pooling skills and knowledge to
save time, effort and money.
The DTLR invited bids for projects to develop strategic service delivery partnerships to be given Pathfinder status.
Councils throughout the country put in a total of 117 bids - and one of the
24 that were successful was the Greater Manchester councils' bid, led by
'The idea of the Pathfinder project is for all 12 councils to share ideas on
the best way to provide education and social services that are too
specialised for each council alone to provide cost-effectively in its own
area,' said Roger Ellis, chief executive of Rochdale MBC.
'Instead of each council doing its own thing, we are working together to
save time, effort and money. This is an extension of the co-operation on
issues that affect more than one council that has been going on for some
'This might result in some services - such as residential school places for
pupils with emotional or behavioural difficulties - being provided jointly
by more than one council or being bought from another organisation by more
than one council as a package deal.'
Peter Roberts, leader of Rochdale MBC, said: 'This positive
co-operation between the councils clearly demonstrates our commitment to
provide services of a value and quality that will stand comparison with the
best available from any source, public or private. By pooling our expertise
we should all see significant benefits from these projects.'
Winning Pathfinder status means the education and social services project
will qualify for expert advice and support on setting up and managing
service partnerships from the DTLR's Strategic Partnering Taskforce.
The outcome of the project will be shared with all 12 councils involved in
the wider co-operation arrangement.
This first Pathfinder project will be developed alongside 10 similar local
projects focusing on enhancing other services, under the umbrella of the
Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA).
Those projects will consider recruitment advertising; payroll and other
financial services; processing benefit claims; IT support services;
construction-related professional services; legal services; computer audit;
trading standards; brokerage of education services; and carrying out best
A separate bid for pathfinder status for those 10 projects together was not
successful but the DTLR has expressed a very high level of interest in
following and supporting these projects.
Investigations are also underway into the feasibility of projects focusing
on vehicle fleet management, and management and maintenance of parks and
The councils involved in the co-operation initiative are the ten Greater
Manchester authorities - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale,
Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan - plus the nearby unitary
councils Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, and the Greater Manchester
police, fire & civil defence, and passenger transport authorities.
A steering group has been set up to oversee the projects. It is chaired by
Roger Ellis, chief executive of Rochdale MBC, and includes experts in
education and social services (Blackpool BC and Wigan MBC), legal issues
(Stockport MBC), finance (Oldham MBC), best value (Rochdale MBC), a representative of the fire authority and one from the AGMA secretariat based in Wigan.
Jon Mitchell, a policy & community planning officer seconded from Rochdale
Council, has been appointed project manager to co-ordinate the projects.
The Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA) - a national body dedicated to
promoting best practice in local government - will be working with the
project manager, providing valuable resources and support to all of the
projects. The IDeA will use the AGMA projects as an example of best
practice in innovative service development and enhancement.
* Issued on behalf of the ten Greater Manchester authorities - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan - plus the nearby unitary councils Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool, and the Greater Manchester police, fire & civil defence, and public transport authorities.