Back to Urban Regeneration

Involve All

The right policies and programmes and the resources to implement them are essential to bring about a lasting improvement in towns and cities, but they are not sufficient. They must be applied so as to meet the needs of people wherever they live – in town or city centres, in suburbs or, indeed, in rural areas.

This means applying them in a way that recognises that:

bulletNo two people and no two places are the same: As towns and cities vary tremendously. Most are thriving. Some face significant difficulties. All face different challenges and have different strengths and opportunities. There can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach handed down from central government.  Strategies that are tailor-made to suit each local area and which reflect the different needs of all communities including minority ethnic groups should be established.
bulletPeople have a right to determine their future and be involved in deciding how their town or city develops: Real sustainable change will not be achieved unless local people are in the driving seat. It is not enough to consult people about decisions that will impact on their lives: they must be fully engaged in the process from the start.
bulletEverybody must be included: This is both a mark of a decent society and plain good sense.  Wherever a rich diversity of different ethnic cultures exists in towns and cities this should be valued and fostered. More investment in people would enable all to have the opportunity to share in and contribute to the national prosperity.  Failure in doing so would both demean the individual and waste a valuable resource. Allowing people to be excluded also risks alienation and disruptive and anti-social behaviour.

Reform Local Strategies

Local strategies should be developed with local people to meet the needs of local people. This requires effective partnerships between all those concerned at national, regional and local level. In particular, it requires effective local authorities: councils that listen to, lead and build up their local communities; councils that work in partnership with business, minority ethnic and faith communities, voluntary organisations and other service providers with the common objective of improving the quality of life of all in their area. To do this, councils need to break free from old fashioned and inward looking practices and attitudes. Radical reform is required:

bulletPeople come first: policies and programmes must be tailored to meet the different needs and aspirations of individual communities and include everyone.
bulletPeople must shape their own future. Led by modern councils, that are responsive and accountable to their local communities, local partnerships should develop a vision for their area and a strategy to deliver it within a set out framework.
bulletA framework for effective partnerships involving national and local government, regional bodies, business, service providers, and the full range of voluntary and community organisations should be created.
bulletThis will allow policies and strategies at all levels to be joined-up and encompass sustainable development of the urban environment, economic performance, social issues and services.

The Role of Local Authorities

Local authorities have a key role as deliverers of essential local services and it is important that they do this well and in a way that meets the needs of local people. But their role needs to be much wider.  Local authorities need to engage local communities. Too often local people feel powerless to influence what happens in their community. They are daunted by, or alienated from, officialdom. They certainly do not see it as working on their behalf and interested in their views. This should be changed so that all local communities, irrespective of their origins should participate. Without real commitment from the community the best use of the resources available wouldn't be made. Local authorities should:

bulletLet people have a real say in the decisions which affect the day-to-day lives of their communities.
bulletProvide strong local leadership developing, in partnership with others, a vision and strategy for the local area through community planning.
bulletDeliver quality local services that people want.

For local authorities to be able to carry on their role efficiently, a legal framework should be put in place, which gives councils the opportunity to develop a new culture and new ways of working:

bulletDuties to consult people on how they want to be governed locally and to bring forward proposals for a new constitution to enable more efficient, transparent and accountable decision making.
bulletPowers to promote the economic, social and environmental well being of their local areas and a new duty to produce a community strategy.
bulletDuties to secure best value in service delivery.
bulletFinancing arrangements with real incentives to improve performance.

Local authorities must:

bulletChallenge why and how a service is being provided.
bulletCompare their performance with others.
bulletConsult local taxpayers, service users and the wider business community.
bulletUse fair and open competition to procure services.

The Role of Local Leadership

Strong local leadership is essential if there is to be effective action. Leaders must engage and earn the respect and confidence of all local communities. They should lead the debate locally about the development of the community. Once a strategy has been agreed, they should drive forward its implementation with their partners, setting clear goals and determining priorities.  For councils to provide efficient, transparent and accountable local leadership they should:

bulletConsult their communities on how they want to be governed locally.
bulletIn the light of what local people say, come forward with a new constitution.
bulletThe constitution must include effective and powerful ways to hold the mayor, leader, cabinet or council manager publicly to account.

International experience suggests that directly elected mayors are often the best option to provide the leadership which larger towns and cities need. In such places whenever councils consult their communities about how they want to be governed locally they should refer to this experience so that they give people a real choice.

The Role of Local Strategic Partnerships

No one knows a place better than the people who live and work there. They must be at the heart of the process to develop a strategy that will work in their area. That is why local strategic partnerships are the key to delivering better towns and cities. Local strategic partnerships will bring together the local authority, all service providers (such as schools, the police and health and social services), local businesses, the full range of community groups and the voluntary sector. They will:

bulletDevelop a community strategy to cover the local authority area. This should look at all aspects that contribute to quality of life together; identify strengths and weaknesses; and set out a long-term vision that has been agreed with all the key stakeholders.
bulletAgree priorities for action and monitor local performance against agreed local indicators taking into account national and regional targets.
bulletCo-ordinate the work of more local or more specific partnerships dealing with particular neighbourhoods or issues.

All areas, failing or prosperous, need to take positive action to take control of their future in a changing world rather than just waiting to react to events. This is particularly important in towns and cities that are regionally significant as their influence stretches well beyond local boundaries. Local strategic partnerships should be also responsible for developing neighbourhood renewal strategies in areas in which deprivation is a significant factor.  Local strategic partnerships should take a fully joined-up approach that brings together economic, social and environmental issues.

The Role of People

All who live in urban areas should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential, regardless of irrelevant factors such as race, age, gender, faith or disability. All should have their say in policy development and implementation, and to have equal access to services and opportunities:

Disabled people

Disabled people should have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate as equal citizens:

bulletAll disabled people can participate fully as equal citizens, enforcing comprehensive civil rights for disabled people.
bulletRights of access for disabled people, so that businesses and other service providers will need to ensure that their services are accessible to disabled people by improving access to their premises where reasonable.
bulletLand-based public transport vehicles are accessible to disabled people.
bulletEnsuring that the needs of disabled people are taken properly into account in policies to reduce car dependency, recognising that for many severely disabled people the car will remain the most viable choice.
bulletDisabled persons parking scheme to ensure that the scheme serves those with the greatest need.
bulletExemption for disabled people from congestion charging and workplace parking levy schemes where these are introduced.

Women

Women are often the backbone of local community life, they make a huge contribution to improving the quality of life for their families and the wider community as mothers, volunteers, residents and workers.

Widening opportunities for women, improving maternity rights, raising child benefit, extending childcare and introducing universal changes such as minimum wage and tackling the pay gap between men and women these measures would ensure that all women could make genuine choices themselves.

It is important that services respond to the needs of women. For example, childcare is a vital support for women and families, enabling them to take up opportunities.  Women also make considerable use of services such as public transport.  Transport operators should ensure that their services respond to the needs of all customers including women. And it can be particularly hard for women living in areas plagued by crime.  Crime reduction programme should fund innovative, practical projects to build on best practice and to develop techniques to prevent crimes such as domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.

Ethnic minorities

Ethnic communities are more likely to live in urban areas creating a richly diverse culture. Current employment rates are lower for ethnic minorities, and particularly for ethnic minority women than for the ethnic majority, though employment rates in some ethnic minority groups have risen in the last 15 years at a similar rate to the ethnic majority.

Faith communities

The significant overlap between ethnic and faith groups in many cases means that the engagement of faith communities as stakeholders in renewal can be vital. Moreover faith communities can command valuable resources and social capital in terms of networks, buildings, voluntary activity and leadership skills. These can be especially important in deprived areas if other forms of institutional support have been eroded.

Faith communities are a distinctive part of the voluntary and community sector. To realise their potential contribution to renewal and social inclusion is a challenging agenda both for faith communities and for other stakeholders.

Young and old

Older people should have access to high quality services and opportunities to participate in society, so that they are able to live secure, fulfilling and active lives.  Involvement by older people should be encouraged in deciding priorities, helping shape policies and ensuring they have more say and control over services they use:

bulletHelping people over the age of 50 find employment, providing job seekers with tax-free financial support, a personal adviser and a training grant to help with updating skills;
bulletConducting a nationwide take-up campaign to make pensioners aware they could be claiming under the Minimum Income Guarantee.
bulletPromoting opportunities for volunteering and raising awareness of the positive contribution older people can make to their community through volunteering.
bulletPromoting a culture of life-long learning.
bulletImproving leisure opportunities for older people.
bulletProviding grants to help pensioners insulate and warm their homes.
bulletHelping improve transport options.

The welfare of young people should be safeguarded. Effective policies for helping young people to make the transition safely and successfully from childhood to adulthood should be established:

bulletHelp all 13 to 19 year olds make the most of their educational, vocational and development opportunities.
bulletPrepare for successful transition to adulthood and the world of work.

This policies can be delivered via a range of means, including a network of personal advisers who will give advice and guidance, broker access to specialised support and, in some cases, provide personal development opportunities.

Young people should not face unsafe and insecure housing situations:

bulletTackling rough sleeping and addressing its root causes.
bulletNew housing and support for young people at risk and other vulnerable people.
bulletAddressing the problems of youth homelessness;
bulletUnder-18 teenage lone parents who cannot live with family or a partner should be placed in supervised semi-independent housing with support.
bulletPriority need for accommodation for care-leavers and other homeless 16-17 year olds.