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Partnership to target poor areas of the city.

Byline: Paul Dale

A powerful partnership body charged with closing the gap between rich and poor areas of Birmingham has been officially recognised by the Government, heralding the dawn of a new era in public service administration.

Regeneration Minister Lord Falconer approved the City Strategic Partnership (CSP), an organisation bringing together leaders of Birmingham City Council, the Health Authority, Police, Centro, the Benefits Agency, employment services, the Chamber of Commerce,universities and voluntary organisations.

Lord Falconer said the CSP would deliver 'joined up working' by forming strategies to tackle deprivation in Birmingham's poorest communities by tackling crime, health, housing, employment and education problems.

Similar bodies are being set up across England, with the Government also approving strategic partnerships in Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton.

However, one partnership - Walsall - has had accreditation deferred pending further review by the Government Office for the West Midlands towards the end of March.

The Government insists the new partnerships will not be permitted to become 'talking shops'.

Their achievements will be closely monitored and funding may be withdrawn if CSPs fail to deliver social and economic improvement at community level. Birmingham CSP will now be able to tap into the next tranche of a pounds 50 million West Midlands fund for neighbourhood renewal.

Lord Falconer said: 'Accreditation is only the first stage in reaching our goal of delivering better local services in neighbourhoods. Partnerships have further work to do to ensure they are more effective, inclusive and able to deliver neighbourhood renewal in their communities.

'The real work of making a difference has just begun. Next year, Partnerships will need to demonstrate that they have made progress, and tackled their weaknesses.'

The first task of Birmingham CSP is to work with the city council in preparing and

implementing a community strategy, identify and deliver the most important things which need to be done, keep track of progress, and keep it up-to-date.

CSPs have a key role in implementing the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal Action Plan published last year. The Local Government Act 2000 placed a statutory duty on local authorities to deliver a local neighbourhood renewal strategy to secure more jobs, better education, improved health, reduced crime, better housing, and close the gap between wealthy and poor neighbourhoods.

Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council, who chairs the Birmingham CSP, said: 'Birmingham has always been known for good partnership working but this strategic partnership begins to move us on to an entirely different level of working together.

'The endorsement from Government Office to the approach we are taking is very welcome, and allows us to now get on with the collective leadership task to consolidate Birmingham's position on the international stage whilst at the same time dealing with the issues that are of most concern to local communities, like living in areas that feel safe, and having access to quality education and good jobs.'

Sir Albert (Lab Ladywood) said the new body would work closely with other partnerships in the city, particularly the community safety partnership.

Another important aspect will be co-ordinating with the network of local, area-based partnerships being formed to look at ways the city council can devolve its decision-making structures to local people.

Fact File

Membership of the Birmingham City Strategic Partnership:

Sir Albert Bore, leader Birmingham City Council

Sue Battle, chief executive, Chamber of Commerce

Richard Clark, chief executive Birmingham Social Housing Partnership

Prof Michael Clarke, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham

David Cragg, chief executive, Birmingham and Solihull Learning and Skills Council

Rob Donald, Director General, Centro John Edwards, chief executive, Advantage West Midlands

Sally Luton, chief executive, West Midlands Arts

Geoff Scaife, chief executive, Birmingham Health Authority

Jane Slowey, chief executive, BVSC

Margaret Tovey, district manager, Jobcentre Plus

Nick Tofiluk, assistant chief constable, West Midlands Police

Joy Warmington, Birmingham Race Action Partnership

CAPTION(S):

Lord Falconer
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 5, 2002
Words:639
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