While the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit admits it made the decision to review the programmes after some had been running for little more than a year, it insists it is trying to ‘help good programmes work even better, not to go back to square one. Areas will not be allowed to ‘choose to spend most of the allocation on the less focused and ‘‘easier’’ activity streams (such as small grants), while neglecting the more challenging neighbourhood level or learning objectives’.
The 0% minimum for neighbourhood-level delivery reflects a lack of capacity among community and voluntary groups, but as it increases, the figure is expected to grow. Urban Forum local strategic partnerships officer Rupa Sarkar said that while the proposals offered the possibility of greater focus and administrative simplicity, they might achieve very little and risked creating a ‘disastrous’ lack of flexibility. Read more: E Conveyancing Melbourne
The government‘s Communities Plan is unlikely to raise the standard of parks and public spaces because its £89m ‘liveability’ fund is too miserly, MPs have been told. The cash should go to councils with the dirtiest, least safe and most vandalised public spaces rather than being distributed equally between local authorities even though this could be interpreted as condoning neglect, the ODPM select committee heard. Dame Sally Powell, lead member for transformation of the local environment at the Local Government Association (LGA), told an inquiry into the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s public spaces strategy that the fund would be channelled into too many areas to make a difference.
She said: ‘A commitment to have an environmental fund is very welcome. But it covers a whole raft of areas the removal of abandoned cars, fly-tipping, maintaining parks and green spaces, and so on. Malcolm Smith, an adviser to the LGA and director of environment at Newham Council in east London, said he doubted whether ‘chucking money at some local authorities’ was the answer because the problem stemmed from members of the public abusing the environment. Judges needed to be able to impose harsher penalties on offences such as fly-tipping, but felt their hands were tied by current legislation.