With the economic recession having a devastating effect on communities, families and businesses and beginning to impact upon front-line local government services and the future prospects for public spending, the time is ripe to review many of the initiatives and developments that have been at the forefront of local government policy and legislation over the past few years. None more so than the “double devolution” policy of driving down greater autonomy in decision making and service delivery to the neighbourhood and locality.
Three years ago APSE launched a research programme in partnership with the Institute of local government studies (Inlogov) and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) designed to explore contemporary issues relating to local government and service delivery, which included a consideration of the neighbourhood agenda and its impact on governance and service delivery; and the local economic footprint of public services.
This is the second report in a series on governance, neighbourhoods and service delivery, the first report of which was published by APSE in July 2008. Our latest report develops the themes set out in the original research based on a survey and telephone interviews, together with more detailed case study analysis of three local authorities, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Nottingham. We are most grateful to those councils for their support and co-operation in taking part in this research.
It is inevitable that as pressure on public funds and local authority budgets grows, the resources committed to neighbourhoods will increasingly be called into question. However, at a time in which the economic impact of recession is felt most acutely at the neighbourhood level, it is arguable that local authorities need to provide greater support in ensuring the wellbeing of neighbourhoods and in building resilient and sustainable communities.
Our research shows that neighbourhoods have an important role to play in revitalising civic engagement and improving service delivery particularly with regard to issues such as community safety and the quality of the local environment, but there are limits to what neighbourhoods can achieve particularly in relation to the wider local authority responsibility for the stewardship of ‘place’ and the strategic leadership necessary to tackle issues such as climate change an ensuring local economic prosperity. I would commend this report to you and hope that it will provide you with much food for thought and examples of good practice in developing your own approaches to
neighbourhood governance and service delivery.
A copy of the full report is available to download below: