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LGA DISCUSSION PAPER ON NEIGHBOURHOOD MANAGEMENT LOCAL DEMOCRACY

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At today's Local Government Association conference on neighbourhood management local democracy, the LGA is launchin...
At today's Local Government Association conference on neighbourhood management local democracy, the LGA is launching another discussion paper, entitled: 'The Role of Councillors in Neighbourgood Management.'

About this paper

This discussion paper explains the principles and objectives of neighbourhood management, and outlines options for how councillors can get involved in neighbourhood management. For example, councillors can be represented on neighbourhood based partnerships, they can seek co-ordination between area committees and neighbourhood based partnerships and they can develop ways of ensuring that council decisions reflect neighbourhood priorities.

The paper provides some background information on neighbourhood management before going on to explore the roles of non-executive and executive councillors. The roles suggested are not definitive roles but rather they are aimed to stimulate discussion locally on the involvement of councillors.

What is neighbourhood management?

The role of neighbourhood management has been described as helping 'deprived communities and local services improve local outcomes, by improving and joining up local services, and making them more responsive to local needs.' The main activities of neighbourhood management include:

- delivering devolved services

- making and implementing agreements with existing service providers to act more effectively or join up better

Neighbourhood management was the theme of one of the 18 policy action team reports which fed into the government's national strategy on neighbourhood renewal - 'A New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal: National Strategy Action Plan' (January 2001).

Under the vision of neighbourhood management expressed by the policy action team report and in subsequent government guidance, neighbourhood management can be delivered by either a dedicated manager or by a team, overseen by a neighbourhood based partnership.

The department of transport, local government and the regions (DTLR - formerly department of the environment, transport and the regions) has stated that the advantages of neighbourhood management include a means to:

- empower deprived communities

- help improve the outcomes that matter to deprived people

- help the vast majority of deprived communities, rather than a lucky few

- bring coherence and co-ordination to special funding for deprived areas

- prevent areas from declining further

Where is Neighbourhood Management being undertaken?

Neighbourhood management is being undertaken both as part of specific government schemes and as part of mainstream local service delivery.

The government is encouraging experimentation with neighbourhood management through the new deal for communities scheme which has been running since 1998 and more recently through the neighbourhood management pathfinder scheme (announced in 2001).

The neighbourhood management pathfinder scheme is part of the overall national strategy on neighbourhood renewal and has£45m funding over three years. Twenty pathfinders are being supported in 2001/2 and approximately a further 15 will be supported in 2002/3, and another 15 in 2003/4.

In addition, the 88 authorities in England benefiting from the neighbourhood renewal fund from April 2001 may use the funding to implement neighbourhood management schemes to help deprived areas.

An LGA survey of local authorities' strategic housing activities (February 2001) has shown that of the 163 authorities who manage stock and responded to the survey, 59% have on the spot housing management at neighbourhood level and 51% have or are planning to integrate housing management services with other local authority or agency services.

Similarly, a recent LGA survey on social inclusion and anti-poverty (April 2001) found that 42% of local authorities have already implemented a neighbourhood management scheme or are in the process of setting one or some up.

Whilst government programmes, such as the new deal for communities, the neighbourhood renewal fund and the neighbourhood management pathfinders scheme apply to deprived areas, the concept and implementation of neighbourhood management can apply to other areas also. Indeed, LGA research has shown that it is not only in deprived areas that authorities are experimenting with forms of neighbourhood management.

What are the objectives of neighbourhood management?

A key difference between neighbourhood management and earlier regeneration programmes is that neighbourhood management is not about spending a given pot of money, but about influencing the way in which mainstream services are delivered. For example, this could mean providing services in a different way in deprived areas and/or spending more money on mainstream services in deprived areas to ensure that that they are appropriate and effective.

The objectives of neighbourhood management are to help deliver long-term outcomes in the areas of:

- crime

- health

- education

- worklessness

- housing and the physical environment

As such, neighbourhood management should influence the work of several public sector agencies in an area, and not just the services of the local authority.

The 20 neighbourhood management pathfinders and the 88 authorities eligible for the neighbourhood renewal fund must show how they are contributing to the government floor targets relating to deprivation. These relate to the five key areas above and are listed below.

Key Public Service Agreement 'floor targets' - tackling deprivation

- To increase the percentage of pupils obtaining 5 or more GCSEs at grades A* to C (or equivalent) to at least 38% in every LEA by 2004. To reduce the attainment gap at Key Stage 2 (age 11) in English and maths will be announced later in 2001.

- Over the three years to 2004, taking account of the economic cycle, to ensure an increase in the employment rates of the 30 local authority districts with the poorest initial labour market position. To ensure a reduction in the difference between employment rates in these areas and the overall rate.

- To reduce the level of crime in deprived areas so that by 2005, no local authority area has a domestic burglary rate more than three times the national average - while at the same time reducing the national rate by 25 per cent.

- By 2010, to reduce by at least 10 per cent the gap between the 20% of areas with the lowest life expectancy at birth and the population as a whole. To also reduce, by at least 60 per cent by 2010, the conception rate among under 18s in the worst 20% of wards, thereby reducing the level of inequality between these areas and the average by at least 26% by 2010.

- To ensure that all social housing is of a decent standard by 2010 with the number of families living in non-decent social housing falling by 33% by 2004, with most of the improvement taking place in the most deprived local authority areas.

Why are councillors important to neighbourhood management?

As elected representatives, councillors have an important leadership and representational role in their communities. Many residents turn to them for help in dealing with 'a range of public service providers and sorting out their problems, regardless of which agency is the cause of the problem. As such, councillors not only act as advocates, community leaders and a voice for local communities but they gain valuable grass roots information about the concerns of local people and the services provided to neighbourhoods.

Also, councillors are often involved in the decision making and consultative processes of other agencies. For example, 60% of councillors are school governors, 42% sit on other public bodies and 57% are involved in voluntary work. This gives them an insight into and influence over other service providers in the area.

As members of both neighbourhood based and authority wide partnerships, councillors command a legitimacy and mandate deriving from their democratic accountability and the wide spectrum of the council's responsibility.

How does neighbourhood management fit with local authority structures and duties?

The policy and legislative framework within which local government operates has been subject to numerous developments in the past four years - all of which are designed to improve local accountability, service delivery and community involvement. These include the introduction of best value in April 2000, the requirement on local authorities to introduce new political management arrangement by May/June 2002, the duty to prepare a community strategy and the power to promote the social, economic and environmental well-being of the area.

Neighbourhood based planning can feed in to the overall authority wide community strategy - providing a bottom up approach to community planning. The involvement of the local authority at neighbourhood level is therefore not just one of service delivery but of community leadership also.

Many authorities have introduced decentralised forms of political management. Recent LGA/IDeA surveys have found that approximately 50% of local authorities have introduced some form of area based committee arrangements. Whilst these committees range from those with substantial budgets and decision making powers for local issues to those which are purely consultative their prominence in local authority arrangements is growing.

Area committees provide a framework and impetus for local accountability and involvement. They also provide a framework for the local champion role of councillors in neighbourhood management.

A recent report on area committees and neighbourhood management has listed the benefits of decentralisation to community governance and social inclusion as:

- helping to develop the elected councillor community leadership role at an area as well as strategic level;

- enabling partnership working to operate at the area and neighbourhood levels, involving a wider range of community and voluntary stakeholders in policy planning and bidding for resources; and

- involving a wider range of citizens in local government by focusing on issues that are important to neighbourhoods and communities.

The following case studies provide examples of area committee structures and their potential to oversee neighbourhood management activities.

Coventry City Councilhas established 6 area forums in those communities that are most in need of support and regeneration to support area-based working and to provide a link into the political management arrangements. The forums provide the means through which ward councillors monitor the development and implementation of the local plans and the delivery of joined-up services. The key tasks of the area forums are to:

- provide leadership to local communities and encourage people to help make their neighbourhoods better and more pleasant places to live by working with local people to identify key needs and issues, being a key focus for local consultation and reporting local views and opinions to the council and its partner organisations;

- provide advice and support in preparing and delivering the Area Plan;

- scrutinise or monitor the area plan to make sure it is delivered in the best possible way;

- scrutinise or monitor local services to make sure that they are delivered in the best possible way;

- ask for reviews to be conducted on local services whether delivered by the Council or by one or more of its partners; and

- provide advice and information on any reviews of services that are taking place; and

- provide advice and information to the council as it develops its policies and priorities.

Members of the area forums include the ward councillors for the area and one member of the cabinet of the council. Local citizens are co-opted on to the area forums. The area forums strengthen the role of ward councillors by giving them direct access to the cabinet andscrutiny aspects of the work of the council and they also help ward councillors to advocate on behalf of people living in the area.

Some area forums are organising meetings in a variety of local venues, others are organising their agendas around themes such as health, crime and employment and all have co-opted local residents who advise councillors and raise issues of concern.

There is an area co-ordinator for each of the 6 areas. Part of their job is to provide support to non-executive councillors in their role on area forums. Furthermore, each of Coventry's strategic directors has been assigned to an area and they provide direct top-level support to the Forums.

Liverpool City Councilhas 11 area committees that are currently consultative in nature. The council is committed to developing the role of the area committee and devolving budgets and decision-making powers to its area committees over the next few years.

The council has been piloting neighbourhood management principles in five areas across the city for approximately 19 months, through its neighbourhood service pilots. These pilots operate on a sub area committee level and each pilot area has its own neighbourhood co-ordinator and a steering group comprising residents, service providers, councillors and other stakeholders in the area.

Four of the five neighbourhood co-ordinator posts are funded by the local authority and one post is jointly funded by the local authority and a registered social landlord. The neighbourhood co-ordinators work with the steering groups to progress the action plans for each neighbourhood service pilot. The neighbourhood co-ordinators report to the area committees and also provide periodic updates for their respective ward councillors. However, given the nature of the role of the co-ordinators, it is not uncommon for them to liaise with their ward councillors on an almost daily basis. The development of this close working relationship has ensured that councillors and neighbourhood co-ordinators are able to bring added value to one another's roles. The neighbourhood co-ordinators are dealing directly on a day to day basis with the same people and the same issues that the councillors see in their surgeries.

There have been considerable improvements in the pilot areas including for example:

- the development of a neighbourhood agreement for vacant property management;

- a scheme with three private companies to develop a local community business to train local people to take advantage of local job opportunities; and

- an accredited work experience programme established for year 10 and year 11 pupils focusing on the environment and citizenship.

Lessons learnt from the neighbourhood service pilots include the need to formalise cross-service/inter-agency working - for example, through protocols or agreements - as soon as possible, and the importance of recognising that it takes time to engage with residents and service providers to get to a stage where groups can develop action plans for their areas.

The council is now focusing on the lessons learnt from the pilots and exploring how the principles of neighbourhood management can be rolled out across the city.

Both the area committee agenda and the roll out of neighbourhood management principles across the city focus on decentralisation, the devolvement of power and increased community engagement.

How do neighbourhood based partnerships fit with authority wide partnerships?

Neighbourhood based partnerships are currently operating for the new deal for communities pathfinders. In the future, each of the neighbourhood management pathfinders will be overseen by a neighbourhood based partnerships. However, neighbourhood based partnerships can also be developed in areas that do not have a government programme.

Neighbourhood based partnerships should include representatives of the key agencies and service providers for the area (e.g. the police, housing and environmental services, NHS, learning and skills councils, youth services, educational services, probation and social services).

It should be recognised that neighbourhood based partnerships may not be new partnerships - in many cases, local partnerships and similar structures are already in place and will be used to oversee neighbourhood management.

At a local authority level, the government expects local strategic partnerships (LSPs) to set the overall strategic framework within which other partnerships will work, including neighbourhood based partnerships. The identification and prioritisation of deprived neighbourhoods will be a role for the LSPs. In many cases, the local authority will have a lead role in setting up and developing the LSP.

Neighbourhood management activities should reflect wider strategic objectives and priorities as determined by the LSP but equally, LSPs will need to take account of the particular needs and priorities identified by neighbourhood based partnerships. There should be a formal linkage between the neighbourhood management partnership and the LSP to ensure effective communication and co-ordination.

What are the links between neighbourhood management and local public service agreements?

Local public service agreements (PSAs) are a means by which local authorities can build upon best value and commit themselves to delivering even better outcomes for local people than they would otherwise expect to achieve. Twenty local authorities agreed local PSAs in 2001. In February 2001, the government announced that over the next two years all shire counties, unitaries, metropolitan districts and London boroughs will have the opportunity to negotiate local PSAs with central government.

The PSA will commit the authority to stretching their planned improvements over the agreed PSA period (between 2 and a half to three and a half years). Local PSAs must agree 12 stretching targets, including a minimum of 7 out of 35 national floor targets.

In July 2001, the government published the document, 'Local Public Service Agreements - New Challenges.' This sets out how the government sees local PSAs as complementing other policies that seek to improve outcomes. Best value reviews, for example, provide the foundation for the authority's choice of aspects of performance on which the local PSA should focus. There is also a clear link to LSPs as these involve a number of organisations and the need to collaborate to improve outcomes is reflected in national PSAs. An authority may also decide to link its LSP with its local PSA through a focus on poor neighbourhoods.

The neighbourhood renewal fund which focuses on tackling deprivation in the 88 most deprived areas also requires local PSAs of these authorities to include targets that support this work. This may present a challenge to some of those local authorities as the government require a majority of the targets that make up the local PSA to relate to national priorities.

The government is clear though that the local priorities, 'provide an opportunity to focus on areas and groups at most risk of social exclusion, with the aim of reducing the differences in outcomes compared with other people in the authority's area, and complementing work being supported in many areas under the neighbourhood renewal strategy.'

Set out below are three case studies, which show how a local PSA could aim to improve outcomes in a particular neighbourhood or neighbourhoods.

Kent County Council's local PSA aims to reduce the gap in outcomes between Thanet and Shepway and the rest of Kent.

Thanet and Shepway figure significantly in the Index of Local Deprivation and have a dependency on benefits well above the county average.

Kent have included in their Local PSA 'convergence' targets for Thanet and Shepway, where regeneration activity will be focused to 'narrow the gap' in performance between those areas and the rest of Kent. Where there is a national or local target for which district-level performance is below the county average, performance in the district will improve by more than the target that has been set for the county as a whole - so that over the period of the PSA performance across Kent as a whole will converge and not diverge. 'Convergence' targets have also been set for services, which do not form part of the countywide suite. Initially, across Thanet and Shepway together there are 17 elements to the overall target consistent with the priority areas of government's 'National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal' i.e. education, employment, health, crime and housing. Kent will also monitor overarching measures of dependency and economic performance i.e. levels of benefit, the number of claimants and the unemployment rate.

Stockton-on-Tees BCis an area of high deprivation, with 11 out of its 30 wards falling within the most deprived 10% of wards in the country. One of its key objectives for the local PSA is to help find 'new and innovative ways of tackling social exclusion at the local and national level' (Stockton-on-Tees BC - Local Public Service Agreement). Many of Stockton's targets, therefore, have focused on eliminating the gap between deprived areas of the borough and the affluent areas.

For example, one of Stockon's local targets aims to improve job and NVQ successes amongst some of the most disadvantaged young people in the borough. In order to help achieve this the borough has negotiated with the government the flexibility to provide a specially tailored new deal full time education training option for young people aged 18-24 from the most deprived wards in the borough. The tailored option to involve a specific package of support including the payment by the authority of a£15 enhancement to benefit (costs to be met by the Employment Service for the first 6 months and by the Authority for the second 6 months) and mandating of clients by the Employment Service to a special enhanced basic skills provision to improve literacy and numeracy.

Middlesbrough Councilchose to focus on neighbourhood management as one of its local targets. The aim is to improve the management of services in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods of Middlesbrough by:-

- increasing the percentage of residents satisfied with services delivered in their area; and

- increasing the number of services 'joined up' across local authorities and other key services which are delivered and implemented by neighbourhood partnerships.

Middlesbrough has agreed as part of its local PSA that it will work with the DTLR to develop models of neighbourhood management as part of policy development work. A key focus will be on ensuring effective partnership working between agencies and local residents and ensuring all involved are working to common goals and objectives. The DTLR will work with Middlesbrough Council to support their proposed pilot of community supported neighbourhood level service agreements, which aims to improve service delivery in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The government will consider further whether, and how, it might relax some of the financial restrictions that prevent residents being rewarded for playing a full role in neighbourhood management, for example, by becoming a member of relevant trust boards and steering groups.

The government has also agreed as part of Middlesbrough's local PSA to consider whether to remove restrictions which prevent managers within government departments and agencies acting as directors within formal constituted partnership structures, and how this could be done.

What is the role of councillors in neighbourhood management?

Critically, it is recognised by government that neighbourhood management should work within 'the context of local government reform - not bypass local authorities.'

The government recognises that neighbourhood management could create a new role for ward councillors and its report on neighbourhood management states that 'councillors could provide the important link between the neighbourhood board, the LSP and the local authority. Options include:

- at least one ward councillor as a member of the neighbourhood board;

- sharing responsibility for neighbourhoods around members of the cabinet;

- appending each neighbourhood plan to the community plan; and

- requiring scrutiny committees to report on progress on each neighbourhood plan.'

In its report of hearings into neighbourhoods, the LGA identified the following roles for councillors:

- providing the link between the neighbourhood and the centre;

- bringing an overview, the element of elected democratic legitimacy and political knowledge, skills and a wider view to any neighbourhood partnership arrangements;

- using knowledge and political know-how to help build up the capacity of local people and communities; and

- bringing vigour, drive and leadership to local areas.

Both executive and non-executive councillors have an important role to play in neighbourhood management. These roles are not distinct, as the executive councillor is also a ward councillor and therefore often adopts both roles. In addition, the roles suggested for councillors are not 'new' roles created by either the changes to political management arrangements or the introduction of neighbourhood management. Rather, they are existing roles that are sharpened by the distinction between non-executive and executive councillors.

The councillor involvement in neighbourhood management should be taken as an exciting opportunity to work with local people and stakeholders to improve outcomes in neighbourhoods. In some cases there will be tensions between representing the council to local communities and representing local communities within the council. However, ward councillors, as democratically elected representatives, already deal with such tensions. If they are on the neighbourhood based partnerships councillors can raise issues at the area committees. The area committees could also take reports from the neighbourhood based partnerships.

Councillors also have an important role to play in ensuring improvements in service delivery - both across the council and in deprived neighbourhoods. The government's floor targets are targets which local authorities should be helping to meet, particularly those local authorities which are in receipt of the neighbourhood renewal fund and those which have neighbourhood management pathfinder schemes.

The following case studies provide examples of councillor involvement in neighbourhood management.

Kirklees Councilset up the Deighton and Brackenhall initiative in September 1997. The area covers two large council housing estates and approximately 2,000 households. The ward is amongst the 10 per cent most deprived wards in England.

The local authority, partner organisations and the local community identified various priority areas that needed addressing at two meetings held in September 1997. The Deighton and Brackenhall initiative was established as a means of co-ordinating activity within the area and 9 action groups were set up to develop projects around key themes as follows:

- youth

- housing and the environment

- multi-agency buildings

- childcare

- employment and training

- crime and drugs

- health and social care (including the needs of older people)

- sport and leisure

- education

The three ward members actively support all 9 action groups. In addition, one of the members chairs the co-ordination group, which oversees the initiative and the work of the 9 action groups. Members participate in consultation events and the development of the action plans with key targets for all 9 areas. Evaluation is currently in progress but some achievements recognised by the community at a 'Visioning' conference held last year include:

- the installation of CCTV cameras

- the building of a new sports hall

- the local furniture recycling and taster training project

- improved consultation

- Playsafe and Staysafe (safety projects for young children and older people)

- an increase in childcare places through the Ashbrow centre of excellence (includes adult education and family support), homestart outreach and family link workers

- an increase in youth activity through the development of dance groups, football academy, film & drama group, drop in sessions

- the development of a joint venture partnership to redevelop parts of the area resulting in mixed tenure housing and the generation of a community dividend to improve local facilities

Councillors have played a critical role in linking the local needs into the council's decision making procedures, and into the decision making procedures of partner agencies such as the health authority and the police. The councillors have acted as advocates on behalf of the local community and helped to gain the involvement of hard to reach groups throughout the initiative.

Redditch BChas 14 neighbourhood groups operating across the whole borough. They are chaired by councillors, attended by local residents and the police and meet three times a year. Agendas for the meetings include local issues raised by residents, town wide issues and services provided by other agencies and by the county council. Each neighbourhood group has a budget of£1,000 per year and the residents decide how to spend this money.

Councillors play a key role in the neighbourhood groups by ensuring issues raised locally are dealt with by raising these issues at the wider council level and by lobbying other agencies as appropriate. Councillors are able to use their local knowledge to raise and discuss issues at the neighbourhood groups.

The county council is notified of the range of issues raised that relate to the services they provide. Issues are either dealt with immediately and then feedback is given to the neighbourhood group or they are raised at the county forum meeting. These meetings are chaired by a county councillor, attended by local residents and other local agencies including the police. They are held three times a year, following on from the neighbourhood group meetings.

The neighbourhood groups are supplemented by four local neighbourhood alliances. These cover four areas with greatest need. Representatives include local councillors, health visitors, GPs, local residents, the police, headteachers and voluntary and community organisations. Each alliance is co-ordinated by a neighbourhood development worker employed by the council. The neighbourhood development worker works with all public service providers in the neighbourhood. Councillors ensure issues which affect local neighbourhoods are dealt with and they work closely with the community representatives on the alliances.

Watford Councilare piloting locality managers in three areas. The locality managers are process managers who work with members, local services and the local community to find local solutions. The locality managers all have local bases (that is, a church hall, a sheltered housing scheme and an estate office building) as well as a shared office in the town hall where they report to a corporate director.

Local action plans are being developed in the three pilot areas. In the future, local action plans will be developed across Watford in order to ensure a community led approach to the community strategy and the local strategic partnership. The county council is represented on the local strategic partnership and has shown support for locality working - in particular as a way of seeking local views.

The role of the ward councillor in locality working has been identified as including:

- acting as a community advocate

- developing evidence of local needs

- feeding back and communicating policy decisions

- contributing to local consultation

- making decisions/recommendations on local issues balanced with the need and priorities for the whole town

- overseeing the local action plan and setting priorities

- scrutinising delivery

- developing action on feedback

- influencing service policies

- working with partners on specific local issues

- contributing to strategic partnerships from a community perspective

Watford council has recognised that if locality working is to be successful, it must work within the whole system including the new political structures. Locality working will be central to how the new area committee structure will operate. The area committees will be made up of ward councillors and will cover the entire borough. The ward councillors will be supported by locality managers in their process management role.

What are the specific roles of non-executive councillors in Neighbourhood Management?

The recent changes to political management arrangements within local authorities reinforce the role of councillors within their communities. Councillors already put in several hours in surgeries including in detailed casework and in making links within the community.

However, it can be argued that the councillor's representative role has often been one of representing the council to the community. In other words councillors, particularly if they belong to a majority party, defend the council and its decisions to local communities and partners. This has been described as 'taking the town hall to the community.' The Local Government Act 2000 provides an opportunity to refocus this role and 'to take the community into the town hall' and allow councillors to really speak up for those people who elect them.

As 'local champions' councillors can take a lead in developing a network of local organisations and individuals, providing local interpretations of the community plan and promoting local democratic engagement. The champion role includes:

- signposting - councillors know how the system works and who to contact. They are well-placed to advise local people about local issues, explain the 'system' to local people and point them in the right direction;

- monitoring - councillors can help local people make progress by overseeing and intervening on their behalf - the Local Government Act 2000 provides a role for non-executive councillors in monitoring and influencing the delivery of all services being provided in an area or neighbourhood;

- acting as advocates - councillors have the necessary status, skills and abilities to tackle failure. When things break down or go wrong non-executive councillors, as elected representatives, are well placed to intervene and seek redress on behalf of local people;

- representing - councillors can spot emerging issues and trends. They will know when a series of individual issues indicates that there is a real failure in the system that needs to be taken up the council itself and they can feed views into the local authority; and

- promoting the area - councillors have a role in promoting the area both to residents and to people living outside the area.

The role of non-executive councillors in neighbourhood management could include:

- acting as 'local champions' within the neighbourhood and providing feedback to the neighbourhood based partnerships;

- acting as a 'champion' of the neighbourhood both within the local authority and to partner organisations;

- seeking co-ordination of activity between area committees and neighbourhood based partnerships;

- being members of neighbourhood based partnerships;

- ensuring effective consultation in developing neighbourhood plans including ensuring that the views of hard to reach groups are gained and considered;

- drawing in partner organisations at a local level behind neighbourhood plans;

- ensuring that local priorities shape authority wide priorities and vice versa;

- being involved in the recruitment of the neighbourhood manager and/or neighbourhood management team; and

- monitoring and influencing the delivery of services through membership of the new overview and scrutiny committees, including scrutiny of the neighbourhood managers/teams.

What are the specific roles of executive councillors in neighbourhood management?

Executive councillors are also ward councillors and therefore also have a responsibility in helping to shape the neighbourhood plans/renewal strategies. The specific role of executive councillors in neighbourhood management could include:

- ensuring that local priorities shape authority wide priorities and vice versa (including in two tier areas);

- developing ways of ensuring that decision making processes (collectively within the cabinet, delegated decisions within their portfolios or delegated decisions to officers) reflect neighbourhood priorities;

- developing ideas to tackle issues in a more cross-cutting way, for example, through greater cross-service delivery;

- allocating general oversight of neighbourhood renewal to a specific cabinet member or allocating oversight of individual neighbourhood plans/renewal strategies amongst cabinet members;

- being members of neighbourhood based partnerships (as executive councillors are also ward councillors); and

- identifying priorities for deprived neighbourhoods (as members of LSPs).

Local authorities will want to consider the issue as to which councillors should sit on the neighbourhood based partnerships. Non-executive councillors can bring their local champion role to the partnership and executive councillors can bring their decision-making powers regarding council resources to the partnership. If responsibility for neighbourhoods is shared amongst cabinet members, it may be appropriate for the executive councillor with particular responsibility for an area to sit on the neighbourhood partnership. Non-executive councillors can also scrutinise the work of the neighbourhood based partnerships and as such, it may be appropriate for some non-executive councillors to be on the neighbourhood based partnership and for other non-executive members to scrutinise the activity of the partnership through the overview and scrutiny committees.

Conclusion

Neighbourhood management provides both an opportunity and a challenge for local councillors. Neighbourhood management provides a real opportunity for councillors to exercise their local champion role. However, there may be real tensions between the needs of the neighbourhood and the needs of the authority overall - these tensions are not new. The new political management arrangements provide a way of dealing with these tensions through the advocacy and scrutiny role of non-executive councillors.

The neighbourhood management pathfinders, and indeed other areas which are experimenting with neighbourhood management should consider the valuable contribution that councillors - both executive and non-executive councillors - can make.

Comments

Comments on the above and on any other aspect of the discussion paper should be sent to:

Mona Sehgal

Policy Officer

Policy and Research Division

Local Government Association

Local Government House

London SW1 P 3HZ

Tel: 020 7664 3209

Fax: 020 7664 3210

Email: mona.sehgal@lga.gov.uk

This discussion paper was written with contributions from Philip Hume and Andi Briggs - Kirklees MBC, David Galliers - Coventry City Council, Jim Robertson - Kent CC, Neighbourhood Services Team - Liverpool City Council, Jan Sinclair - Middlesbrough Council, Jacqueline Smith - Redditch BC, Cllr Paul Porgess - Stockport MBC, Anthony Gardner - Stockton-on-Tees BC and Kim Gallagher - Watford Council.

-Policy Action Team 4 report 'Neighbourhood Management' (DETR, April 2000)

-Neighbourhood Management: Invitation to participate in a Pathfinder Round (DETR, January 2001)

-Future Housing Directions - a survey of local authorities' strategic housing activities (LGA, February 2001)

-All Together Now? - A Survey of Local Authority Approaches to Social

Inclusion and Anti-Poverty (LGA research report 20, April, 2001)

-Local Matters: Councils in 2001 (LGA, 2001)

-Local Leadership, Local Progress (LGA, 2000) and Survey of New Political Management Arrangements (IDeA, 2000)

-Area Committees and neighbourhood management: increasing democratic participation and social inclusion (LGIU, 2001)

-Neighbourhood Management: Invitation to participate in a Pathfinder Round (DETR, January 2001)

-Policy Action Team 4 report 'Neighbourhood Management', paragraph 1.24 (DETR, April 2000)

-Local Voices: the neighbourhood dimension to governance (LGA, 2000)

-The Real Role of Members (LGA, December 2000)

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