Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum: Cross-cutting review on Improving the Public Space


  The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Smith, announced on 25 June 2001 that "improving the public space" would be one of seven cross cutting reviews that contribute to the 2002 Spending review. Terms of reference and contact information on all reviews are posted on Treasury's public website.

  The other cross cutting reviews focus on:

    —  Children at Risk.

    —  Role of the Voluntary Sector in Delivering Services.

    —  Public Sector Labour Market.

    —  Science and Research.

    —  Services for Small Businesses.

    —  Tackling the causes of Health lnequalities.

  The Public Space review has examined how Government policies, funding and targets could produce improvements in the safety and attractiveness of the public space—the local environment where people lead their lives The steering group for the review has helped frame the following vision for good quality public space:

    —  safe, clean, streets and pavements designed to balance the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and to provide opportunities to play, sit, talk to others etc;

    —  public buildings, spaces and facilities—enough of the right kinds and in the right places, accessible, well designed, safe and well maintained.

  To be delivered through:

    —  clear strategic management and allocation of responsibility for public service delivery;

    —  business caring about public space which it owns and the wider, communal, local environment;

    —  local people shaping the local environment, playing a part in keeping it safe and attractive, taking pride and curbing nuisance.

  Lord Falconer has lead the review and, at the conclusion of Spending Review, will lead on implementation, in consultation with colleagues from key central government departments: John Denham in the Home Office, Michael Meacher in DEFRA, Baroness Blackstone in DCMS and John Spellar and Nick Raynsford in DTLR.

  An inter-departmental group including interested external partners (the Countryside Agency, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, Tameside MBC and the Pedestrians' Association) was set up to review all public services, programmes and policies which impact on the quality of streets and local public spaces. It has also considered whether there is an effective process for delivery, management and improvement.

  The group went through a consultation and information gathering process with a wide group of experts and interested parties from within Whitehall, local authorities, voluntary and community groups, academics, and business interests.

  The Review has completed its final report and Lord Falconer has provided this advice to the Chief Secretary for consideration in the 2002 Spending Review. Summaries of public space, and all cross cutting reviews, will be included in the SR2002 publication this summer.


    —  public space matters—it has strong links to other key policy areas like crime reduction, health, the local economy, sustainable development, children's well-being and the social exclusion agenda;

    —  local solutions ensure buy-in and increase the chances of sustainability of improvements. The more you can involve people in the provision and management of facilities in their area, the more sustainable and successful those facilities will be;

    —  leadership (local and national) and clear, consistent messages are vital. Clear lines of responsibility and accountability are also key;

    —  innovative working eg at LA level (eg cross-departmental nuisance teams, or multi-task, area-based street cleaning teams) can better get at complex local environmental problems;

    —  better data streams on public space are vital, as a democratising force and a lever for councils. Better information on levels of street cleanliness, antisocial behaviour or fear of crime are vital to inform policy making and give residents an extra lever to demand improvements.


      This Review will result in a plan that facilitates local action—an improved cross-Government approach to delivery can clearly establish improved streets and public places as a priority local service.

      The Government is also embarking on a review of the statutory responsibilities and powers of local authorities in relation to the local environment, so that they are better able to deal with various forms of environmental nuisance. Funding from the Capital Modernisation Fund is also being made available to support 10 local environmental improvement demonstration projects.

      Beyond the Spending Review process, it is envisaged that cross-departmental work will continue to ensure that the Government's approach to public space issues is coherent and policies and programmes complement each other to maximise improvements and get full value for money for the investment made.

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