Memorandum by Cornwall County Council
This memorandum takes heed of the recent research
on Area Based Initiatives entitled "Collaboration and Co-ordination
in Area-Based Initiatives." Published in May this year it
was the third and final report to the Department of Transport,
Local Government and the Regions. The basis of these was that
there is a proliferation of initiatives aimed at tackling deprivation
and social exclusion, leading to debates about integrated working
at central, regional and local levels. In Cornwall it is felt
by many that this is the case, with it is estimated well over
100 different partnerships involved to some degree or other with
regeneration and delivering relevant initiatives.
Drawing on the ABI research, it points out that
there is a vertical perspective which recognises the relationships
of hierarchy and control through which policies and programmes
are developed and managed from central government, through regions,
to localities and downwards to smaller areas and neighbourhoods.
We would agree with this, in that changes at
national level have sometimes left gaps. In this region the RDA,
already in need of additional funding, has had to focus on the
hard economic outputs now it is under the remit of the DTI, with
no one ready to pick up many of the social inclusion aspects that
they previously dealt with.
At the regional level, when the Objective One
management systems and processes were set up, it reflected the
systems that GO currently worked with, to the frustration of those
involved in successful SRB programme management that was quite
At the local level this vertical perspective
can have an impact when a different local government officer is
involved because the remit comes with a different label from a
different central source. It can be argued that this is positive
in that it broadens the effort being directed at the regeneration
of an area, but it can have a negative impact through lack of
communication. This results in overlapping partnerships as resources
are marshalled to take advantage of or to work to direct new national
The ABI research also concludes that there were
issues around horizontal relationships, ie between organisations
of governance at a particular level. Again this happens locally,
with a view that because so many initiatives call for new linkages
and partnerships to enable them to operate a split operation develops.
This was discussed at a conference held in Bodmin this year, organised
jointly between the Institution of Economic Development and the
Federation of Economic Development Authorities. They concluded
that those individuals outside the new partnership and based "back
at the ranch" have ever onerous targets to meet with dwindling
resources. They find themselves having to restrict what they do
and unable to take risks, whilst their colleagues from the same
"ranch" are out at the party, with new money and encouraged
to take risks. Some present were questioning the effectiveness
of some of the 100 + initiatives in Cornwall because of this.
The contribution of area-based initiatives to
broader regeneration initiatives and regional strategies
Worked well at engaging local communities/interests
and thus setting up for future work, eg the town forums set up
under an SRB programme are now able to participate in other RDA
and GO initiatives.
Brought match funding into the area
for projects that matched with and supported other strategies
eg from SRB and Objective One.
Target areas of one initiative do
not always match those of another eg SRB2 key towns and Objective
One towns. This reflects the criteria of the funding source but
obviously does little for sustainable regeneration as temporal
funding sources cease with no successor.
Inability of area-based initiatives
to identify very small areas on need eg it is said that there
are more economically deprived people in the three east Cornwall
Districts but 11 of the 12 areas to benefit from targeted assistance
from Objective One are in west Cornwall. This is because they
"sit" in measurable numbers as opposed to being dispersed.
The characteristics of successful regeneration
Well thought out at the local levelhow
will it be delivered etc.
Not hammered into the shape that
suits the funds that are being chased.
Representative local partnership
that is supported throughout its development.
Involvement of local communities
Much progress made in this area,
especially with the Community Empowerment Fund in the two District
Council areas in west Cornwall. The RDA in Yorkshire is to be
complimented for supporting its establishment in non-Neighbourhood
Renewal Fund areas (as highlighted in "The Learning Curve"
by the NRU).
In the push to ensure that communities
are fully engaged there is the danger that unless every single
person has been consulted and agrees with whatever is being proposed
then it cannot be said to have community support. We are beginning
to experience in the Objective One processes that even if the
local area management group resolves to support a project others
will say that this is an inadequate expression of support.
Needs time, which many initiatives
in the past did not provide, leading to claims of tokenistic community
involvement. The experience of the NRF in west Cornwall, and its
LSP, shows that after 12 months and with the support of the CEF
the community involvement is just coming through. Whilst these
representatives will have a role on the LSP into the future, the
funding it has available (NRF) ends in 18 months' time.
LAs need advice and guidance in ensuring
that they are happy with the involvement of others in what can
seem to be their role, especially if the LA is an accountable
body ultimately responsible for funds. We would like to see more
attention paid to this, and to better integration at all levels
(including town and parish councils) right from the start, rather
than the new partnerships developing as an "add on"
to existing democratic systems.
See third bullet above.
Whether and where area-based initiatives have
brought about sustained improvements to deprived communities
One issue is scalewe're having
the full evaluation of SRB2 being carried out at the moment, but
at £7.5 million in eight towns over seven years it was hardly
likely to do more than slightly influence things. Therefore there
are individual projects eg CAB in east Cornwall, Falmouth Maritime,
Alma Place Redruth, which will continue to have an impact and
for whom the area-based initiative was critical to its establishment.
The temporal issue has been mentioned
beforesee bullets in next section.
What arrangements need to be put in place at the
end of a regeneration initiative to ensure that benefits to local
Projects that are supported need
to demonstrate a forward strategy that is sustainable.
Whatever you do you cannot guarantee
it. The selection processes should minimise risk and maximise
If the managing partnership is seen
as more than being there for the length of the funds there is
a greater chance of ensuring mainstreaming and sustainability.
It becomes less orientated to gaining outputs set down in the
contract and more concerned about addressing impact.
Whether policy has taken account of long-term
impacts as well as the outputs created
We imagine that all of these initiatives
start with the best of intentions, in that they were created to
have a long-term impact on a certain issue or location. However
in virtually every case the "paymaster" (usually somewhere
in HMG) needs to be able to measure progress in limited timescales,
which leads to the development of relatively short-term outputs.
Unless there is a shift in attitude by the "paymasters"
we cannot see this issue going away. In our experience the SRB
programmes became output dominated and the overall local strategy/outcomes
could be lost as contract-fulfilling outputs were chased. On the
other hand the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund has had so little guidance
that almost anything can be deemed/argued as being eligible. We
anticipate a tightening "from the centre" on this.
What happened to SRB reflects the
horizontal relationship mentioned in the introduction. When launched,
the outputs for SRB were meant to be a proxy for the impact, but
as central auditor-type people got involved and detailed justification
was sought from "the centre" the outputs developed an
Whether initiatives have had an effect on the
major Government and local government programmes
We find this difficult to judge.
With certain programmes eg the SRB4 programme in west Cornwall
dealing with unemployment, almost as soon as a new way of linking
with New Deal was developed it would be announced as national
policy or as a pilot for Cornwall. Further, some of the projects
trialled by the SRB programme have now been adopted as standard
by Jobcentre Plus and Business Link.
Another example is where SRB2 funds
were used to enhance the quality of CCC works in Newquay, and
this has been reflected in the RDA selecting there for the Civic
Whether lessons have been learned from previous
initiatives, like City Challenge, and applied to new regeneration
initiatives, such as New Deal for Communities and Local Strategic
Seemed to happen best when within
one vertical arrangement eg the RDA were happy for SRB programmes
to run through evolving or developing partnerships rather than
set up new ones, but other bodies require new partnerships. Another
example is the Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership
(working with the SRP and RDA), whose membership is almost exactly
replicated by the AONB management partnership that is being set
up to handle Countryside Agency funds.
Efforts can be made at the local
level to build on local expertise eg the systems and processes
for the NRF in west Cornwall were more rapidly developed because
of the SRB experience.
How the Government should decide when to introduce
an area-based initiative, and whether there are successful alternatives
Area-based initiatives work well
in engaging local interests as opposed to "professional"
interests when it is thematic. Residents, businesses etc are more
likely to become involved if they can see an holistic approach
The downside is that they can cross
over with thematic approaches unless there is care and consideration
from both the vertical and horizontal perspectives described at
This care and consideration can only
come about if there is long-term engagement, which is usually
lacking in area-based initiatives.