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Slow start blows Peterborough LAA off course...
Slow start blows Peterborough LAA off course

By Kerry Lorimer, finance editor

Peterborough City Council's local area agreement will not be signed off until July, four months behind schedule.

Peterborough's agreement, the only one of the 21 pilots not to reach conclusion in March, has struggled to catch up after a slow start and has been plagued by problems since its inception.

In particular, the agreement was blown off course by a failed bid to integrate it with the local public service agreement, and an early preoccupation with the detail of the three funding blocks at the expense of a wider vision of what the agreement should achieve.

Peterborough also struggled with problems common to all pilots, such as late and contradictory guidance from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the lack of pressure from Whitehall departments on partners, such as the police, to co-operate.

Nervousness among civil servants, particularly at the Home Office, about losing control of key funding streams has been a persistent source of frustration for all councils involved in the negotiations (LGC, 18 February).

It is understood that although Peterborough's negotiations will be concluded next month, the Government Office for the East of England has asked for more time to get the agreement signed off by ministers because of next week's election.

Rob Roberts, head of performance management at Peterborough, said the council's agreement had made 'significant progress' and would be strengthened by the extension it had been granted.

'The extra time has allowed the preparation of a more rounded document,' he said.

One senior local government source said Peterborough had 'had it too easy and was expecting a lot of handholding'.

Peterborough - what went wrong?

>> Delay in getting off the blocks

>> Time wasted on attempts to integrate local area agreement with local public service agreement

>> Focus on three funding blocks instead of big picture

>> Late and inconsistent guidance from ODPM

>> Few incentives from Whitehall for police and other key partners to

sign up

>> Lack of corporate capacity.

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