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WOOLAS BLOCKS RENEWAL CASH

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Partnerships must improve service in deprived areas...
Partnerships must improve service in deprived areas

By Jennifer Sprinks

Government is withholding 10% of the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund from three Local Strategic Partnerships until they show significant improvement in helping deprived areas.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed the allocation of the£525m NRF for the next financial year to 86 areas that showed progress in reducing crime and improving health, education and housing.

The ODPM makes the allocations according to how local strategic partnerships - formed between councils and their partners - have made progress in achieving neighbourhood renewal since they began in 2001.

However, amounts for three partnerships - Birmingham, Nottingham and Kingston upon Hull - were withheld because they have failed to show enough improvements.

Minister for neighbourhood renewal Phil Woolas said:

'Local people living in these areas deserve the best possible performance from public

service providers. This action therefore signals that poor performance will not be tolerated.'

The LSPs have been given an extension until the end of April this year to demonstrate how they plan to meet national floor targets to narrow the gap between the poorest neighbourhoods and the city average.

By March, the three partnerships will also be expected to advertise for an LSP delivery manager and conduct a review.

An ODPM spokeswoman said: 'This is not meant to be punishment, just a way of ensuring targets are met.'

Kingston upon Hull City Council accepted the government's decision.

Hull's partnership has since identified how it plans to meet the government targets, having carried out a city-wide consultation on a community strategy for the next 15 years.

Hull LSP chair Kath Lavery (Lab) said she was confident the partnership was on track to meet the targets.

'They are not a criticism of our achievements on the ground, but show our administration could do better.'

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