Saturday, 14 March 2009

Strategic Partnership - what's it all about?

“Maybe I’m thick”; “What the bloody hell’s all this about?”; Haringey haven’t told us a dicky-bird about this”.

All understandable comments, from local residents at the local neighbourhood assembly on Thursday night – it was in Highgate, with the usual useful list of issues to follow up or consider. What stuck out most in my mind though, was the presentation about Haringey’s ‘Local Area Agreement’ and 'Strategic Partnership'.

This shouldn’t really be a difficult thing to explain, but left to the Council or a Labour councillor it can slip into monstrous, inexplicable jargon. So you get the idea, here’s the official explanation of a local area agreement, on the Council website:

“An LAA is a three year agreement and medium term delivery plan for the local Sustainable Community Strategy. The LAA contains a ‘Story of the Place’ and the key challenges facing the borough … The LAA focuses specifically on key issues identified by the local community through the Sustainable Community Strategy and partners where partnership working can add greater value. Haringey’s LAA is made up of 35 improvement indicators and 16 mandatory statutory educational attainment targets and early year indicators as agreed by the Council and its partners which have been selected from a list of national indicators.”
So that’ s crystal.

So what, actually, is it? Essentially, the Strategic Partnership is ‘the state’ in Haringey. The Council acts as the ringleader, but in pure cash terms, the council is only a small part of the the state in our borough – you have the police, the health service, and so on. The Local Area Agreement is the three year plan that this Strategic Partnership comes up with, to govern how these bodies work together and get things done.

So it's very important, but the way it works is indeed astoundingly opaque, and little wonder local residents are bewildered by it.

I’d like to tell what happens at meetings of this mysterious body, but Haringey's Liberal Democrat Councillors are barred from attending. Local MP Lynne Featherstone is invited - but I’m sure that’s only because the powers-that-be never envisaged a Liberal Democrat would ever get elected to Parliament in Haringey.

It is woeful that this very important body carries on in this way.


Alan Stanton said...

I was amazed to read this, Neil.

And even more astonished to find out that the Haringey Strategic Partnership meets at midnight each new moon in a secret location. It's rumoured to be an underground cave on a mysterious island, shrouded in mist and guarded by fire-breathing wraiths who . . .

Actually, you'll be delighted when I reveal that HSP meetings actually take place in Haringey Civic Centre. Agendas and minutes are on the Council's public website. Best of all, meetings are open to the public!

There you are. Another unmissable evening beckons.

For you.

(Unfortunately, my gerbil's toenails are in urgent need of attention.)

Alan Stanton said...

Ha! April Fool, Neil!

The HSP does really meet in the cave on that secret island.


Neil Williams said...

Hi Alan, hope the gerbils have been duly relieved...

I hope it was clear that I was referring to the Lib Dems' exclusion from holding any places on this body, from which we are indeed being fully 'kept out', which is wrong.

And the public out there can't be 'wrong' - I can assure you they haven't a clue what this important body is all about!