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Manage and Maintain Urban Environment

Urban regeneration is concerned with the way we manage our existing assets. Ninety per cent of the buildings that will be in use in 30 years time already exist. How we look after them will determine the quality of the urban environment inherited by the next generation of citizens.

Poor environmental management and insecurity are key reasons why so many people have moved away from our towns and cities. Strong preventive measures are required to stem the decline and establish services that respond quickly and flexibly to the needs of local people. Such measures require the investment of adequate resources. At present, the formula for allocating central funding to urban local authorities gives insufficient weight to environmental management services.

More coherent management would follow if local authorities had strategic responsibility for the whole of the urban environment, not just the areas that they own or manage themselves. Stronger legislation would give them powers to ensure that - irrespective of ownership - land, buildings and public space were properly maintained.

At the same time, councils can improve access to their own services by creating 'one-stop shops' where staff exercise devolved authority to meet the everyday needs of residents. Greater business involvement can be secured through the creation of town improvement zones where the cost of extra management and maintenance is shared between the public and private sectors.

In some urban areas, particularly council estates, the scale of environmental and social problems requires sustained and intensive public management. The case for devolved management structures that involve local people may be especially compelling in these areas. Persuading people and organisations to care for their urban environment is partly a matter of re-awakening civic pride. Community involvement needs to be supported by strong enforcement action to deal with vandalism, graffiti, intimidation, noise pollution and other anti-social behaviour. Proceeds from fines for criminal damage should be recycled to pay for repair and maintenance of the local environment.

bulletAssign a strategic role to local authorities in ensuring management of the whole urban environment, with powers to require other property owners to maintain their land and premises to an acceptable standard.
bulletProvide an above-inflation increase in central resources allocated to local authorities for managing and maintaining the urban environment in each of the next seven years.
bulletPlace town improvement zones on a statutory footing, enabling local authorities to work with local businesses to establish jointly-funded management arrangements for town centres and other commercial districts.
bulletPilot different models of neighbourhood management that give local people a stake in the decision-making process.