Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by South Yorkshire Coalfield Partnership Board (GRI 08)


  1.1  The South Yorkshire Coalfield Partnership covers the Metropolitan Boroughs of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. There has been a history of joint working on regeneration between the three Boroughs, particularly in the Dearne Valley, where the original partnership was formed over a decade ago. In the late 1990's the number of joint initiatives across the whole of the three Boroughs increased greatly. The South Yorkshire Coalfield Partnership in its current form was launched early in 2001, as a strategic partnership to drive the regeneration effort forward and to ensure a coordinated approach to initiatives operating in the SY Coalfield area. The attached diagram shows how the South Yorkshire Coalfield Partnership fits into the sub-regional partnership structure. Also attached as a supporting document is an Induction Pack designed for Board members, which shows how democratic accountability is safeguarded and a full range of different partnership interests are represented.

  1.2  The South Yorkshire Coalfield was one of the six locality case studies for the "Collaboration and Coordination of Area Based Initiatives (ABI's)" report. The relaunch of the South Yorkshire Coalfield Partnership (SYCP) Board in its current strategic role occurred after the preparation of the report. Liaison with Professor Murray Stewart of the University of the West of England, one of the main authors of the study, has confirmed our view, that the SYCP Board has a significant role to play in meeting the recommendations of the report in the South Yorkshire Coalfield context.

  1.3  The SYCP Board has two main reasons for submitting evidence to the inquiry. First, within the Board and the supporting partnership structure is a lot of experience of regeneration initiatives, which we feel could assist the inquiry in your work. Second, one of the ABI's falling within the SYCP Board's remit is the South Yorkshire Coalfield Health Action Zone (SYC HAZ). At the time of writing, the funding of the Health Action Zones is still uncertain, and the Board feels strongly that the impact of the SYC HAZ will be strengthened by rapid confirmation of funding for 2003-04 and 2004-05. The SYCP Board has already made representations to the Secretary of State for Health, and seeks support from the Urban Affairs Sub Committee, insofar as it is able to consider such matters within its terms of reference.

  1.4  The evidence to the Sub-Committee is presented under four headings:

    —  targeting of regeneration initiatives;

    —  consistency of policy and time to make a difference;

    —  mainstreaming and innovation;

    —  joint working and coordination.

  1.5  At the end of this submission is an Annex which matches the four headings to specific areas the Sub Committee highlighted in the Press Notice announcing the inquiry.


  2.1  It is our experience that regeneration programmes need to be specific on targeting across a range of dimensions, covering groups and themes as well as area and timescale. This enables the objectives for the programme to be appropriately framed and the resource input needed to make a difference to be assessed. The design of some regeneration initiatives encourages well-targeted programmes, eg Health Action Zones, New Deal for Communities, whereas others do not, eg Single Regeneration Budget.

  2.2  The target groups/themes/areas and timescales would ideally be represented on a four dimensional diagram. The matrix below is a poor substitute, but illustrates the different groups and main themes with which regeneration activities are concerned.

Economic development
Sport and Leisure
Culture and the Arts
Community development
Community safety

  2.3  The SYC HAZ provides examples of the use of specific targeting towards local priorities. For example, one of the objectives is to enable people with physical or sensory disabilities in later life to lead more independent lives. Being specific means that the limited funds associated with the HAZ can be used to best effect.

  2.4  Often the choices in the design of regeneration programmes are presented in either/or terms, eg area-based v thematic. The dimensions model presented above would suggest that this presents the options in too simplistic a way. The key issue is how areas/groups/themes are combined in any regeneration programme. We would suggest that where there is a focus on a small area (neighbourhood) there is a need to be aware of the group and theme dimensions if programmes are to be implemented effectively. If this is achieved, then an area based programme, such as Doncaster New Deal for Communities, can be a very effective way of dealing with major problems in urban areas.


  3.1  Transformation of disadvantaged areas cannot happen overnight. The time needed to build effective partnerships at the local level is acknowledged in the design of the New Deal for Communities programme and the approach to Neighbourhood Renewal. Such is the complexity of the public policy process that consistency of policy amongst central, regional, sub regional and local agencies over a reasonable time period, eg 10 years, is critical to success.

  3.2  In the Dearne Valley, the Dearne Initiative in the late 1980's/early 1990's gave rise to a concerted programme of investment through City Challenge and other programmes, including derelict land reclamation (eg of the huge Manvers area), road building (eg Dearne Towns Link Road), economic development (Dearne Valley Enterprise Zone) and education (Dearne Valley College). As a result 10,000 jobs have already been created. This consistency of policy continues today, as parts of the regeneration strategy in the Dearne Valley are still to be implemented and other issues, such as the potential contribution of the Dearne Valley to the housebuilding targets for the region, have arisen during the past few years.

  3.3  Unfortunately, the Health Action Zones are currently beset by uncertainty over future funding, which has severe consequences for their operations. The original seven year duration was called into question in 2000, and funding for 2002-03 was only confirmed by the Department of Health in December, 2001. The Health Action Zones still do not know whether they have funding for the final two years, 2003-04 and 2004-05. In practical terms, it is extremely difficult to set up and implement strategic programmes aimed at tackling long-standing and complex problems without greater certainty about funding. However, if a decision to confirm the HAZ funding is made quickly, it will be possible for the South Yorkshire Coalfield HAZ to put together an effective programme for its final two years, building on the excellent work done already.


  4.1  The report on "Collaboration and coordination of area based initiatives" states that "most ABI's represent a distraction from mainstreaming rather than a contribution to new ways of thinking responding to core problems in mainstream services" (P128). It is clear from other sections of the report that Health Action Zones are one of the exceptions to this charge. The report states that "Much of the success of HAZ's in influencing the mainstream derives from the fact that they have combined a radical agenda (about partnership working, reducing inequalities and modernising services) and staff dedicated to progressing this agenda, with close links to the bodies responsible for planning and delivering mainstream services" (P35).

  4.2  HAZ's are being successful both in addressing issues arising from the delivery of mainstream services, trying out different approaches or filling gaps, and using the results of the HAZ initiatives to influence the mainstream. Examples from the South Yorkshire Coalfields HAZ include the early introduction of nurse-led Coronary Heart Disease Clinics in GP Surgeries, and the "Dearne Valley Dads" project, which has managed to work effectively with teenage fathers. The SYC HAZ has also had a novel approach to community involvement, through the "Community Health Animateurs" Intermediate Labour Market programme.

  4.3  The general point arising from the experience of the HAZ's is that the design of the programme has enabled good links with the mainstream to be achieved, despite central redirection of activity (referred to in P.35 of the "Collaboration and Coordination in ABI's" report) and the uncertainties referred to in Para. 3.2 above.


  5.1  Much of the work of the South Yorkshire Coalfield Partnership is concerned with encouraging joint working and checking that it is happening where it should be. Consistency of policy (see Section 3 above) must be followed through with a joined up approach if regeneration initiatives are to be effective. Effective delivery of the South Yorkshire Objective 1 programme in the SY Coalfield is a Board priority, and the SY Coalfields SRB6 programme is playing a key role in providing matching funding for Objective 1 and supporting complementary initiatives. Practical steps, such as a joint ERDF/SRB appraisal form, have been undertaken to facilitate joint working.

  5.2  The "Collaboration and Coordination of ABI's" report refers to examples of coordination in the South Yorkshire Coalfield, such as the joint SRB/HAZ social capital study. There are other examples from the SYC HAZ, such as the use of Whole Systems approaches and the collaboration with the SYC Sports Action Zone on physical activity projects.

  5.3  There are also examples in the SY Coalfield of management of multiple programmes, eg the SYC HAZ Team also manages Surestart Plus. However, this type of joint management at the local level could be much more common, particularly with the developing role of the Local Strategic Partnerships. This would need more active collaboration between Central Government Departments, since there are often logistical complications where different sponsor departments are involved.

  5.4  It is also our experience that there needs to be more sharing of good practice at Central Government level, and active collaboration with local practitioners, on the central role in the design of programmes. Many practitioners and community representatives at the local level have had ideas for many years on how "technical" areas, such as project appraisal systems and output definitions could be improved so that they enhance the effectiveness of programmes, but even with the advent of the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit and the Regional Coordination Unit there seems, as far as we are aware, to be little effective "customer" input into these areas.


  6.1  We suggest that the essential characteristics of regeneration initiatives are that funds are ring fenced for specific targeted purposes with dedicated staff resources to support and promote the initiative. In the terms of paragraph 2.4 above, area based initiatives would be where the area dimension is given particular prominence (usually the initiative is confined to a small geographical area). We would suggest that regeneration initiatives of various different types have shown their worth, and have a continuing role to play, so long as good practice lessons, including those outlined in our submission, are adopted.

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