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BOROUGH GETS TOP NEIGHBOURHOOD RENEWAL FUND ASSESSMENT

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Croydon LBC has been given a top 'green' rating in the government's first public assessment of those local strategi...
Croydon LBC has been given a top 'green' rating in the government's first public assessment of those local strategic partnership's that receive Neighbourhood Renewal Funds.

This is the second year in a row that Croydon has received a 'green' rating from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; until now assessments have been released only to the individual authorities involved.

The assessment shows that the Croydon Strategic Partnership has made good progress in reducing crime and 'worklessness' and improving health, education and housing in its most deprived areas - the north west of the borough and New Addington-Fieldway.

Making these assessments public is a good thing and will help spread best practise across the country, says the chair of the Croydon Strategic Partnership, council leader Tony Newman.

Mr Newman also praised the hard work put in on the Croydon Partnership by its members from the health, business and voluntary sector: 'It shows what can be done when we join forces with our partners to make a difference in our most deprived areas,' he said. 'I would like to thank everyone on the partnership and in our communities who have contributed to this success.'

Mr Newman said that the assessment is useful measure of performance, but it didn't really reveal the key elements of the Croydon partnership that contributed to its top rating.

'There are a number of unique elements to the Croydon Partnership to do with its structure and way of working that make it a success,' he said. 'For one thing, we keep it up to date: a new sustainable Community Strategy is produced each year, and not just every three years like most other LSPs. This contains the latest policies and targets which are made public.

'We also have a small Strategic Partnership board, backed by an Executive Group that makes for a workable, efficient and responsive decision-making body. And we make sure that executives can get on with their jobs, without being burdened by the minutiae of the 'process issues' - these are handled by partnership managers. Another point is that the partnership is managed by a dedicated Divisional Director and not a more junior officer.

Croydon's partnership work with local communities has been recognised by central government with a Beacon award last year. Next year Croydon hopes to build on this by being part of the Beacon Peer Support scheme, where it will offer support to weaker LSPs.

This will be a natural development from last year's successful Beacon Open Day, attended by local government professionals from many different disciplines. This event is being repeated this year, on 9 March, for those who were unable to attend the first event.

The board is also a representative partnership between the public, private and voluntary sectors as equals; with one third membership for each sector.

The government assessments apply only to those 86 local strategic partnerships that receive Neighbourhood Renewal Funds. The Croydon Strategic Partnership was one of only 30 to achieve a green rating. Most LSPs were given an 'amber/green' rating and 16 were rated 'weak' with the bottom 'amber/red' assessment. Three of these have had funds withheld because of poor performance.

Croydon's assessment shows improvements in employment rates amongst ethnic minorities and on the key health, housing, crime and partnership indicators, measured against 'floor targets'.

These targets look at minimum performance levels and aim to get renewal areas up to the national average, or beyond. In addition, each authority is expected to narrow the gap between its lowest performing areas and the authority average.

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