Lewes is the Council of the Week
This week's Champion Council is Lewes District Council. After coming under Conservative control at the beginning of last year, following 18 years of Liberal Democrat administration, the council has undergone a number of major changes to get the council working in a more efficient way for the benefit of residents. By using innovative methods and working in partnership with external agencies, Lewes District Council are creating jobs and growth for local people. Some examples of their recent projects are:
- Going out to the market for a partner to develop 48 sites through a promotional agreement aimed at providing housing and enhanced community benefit. This includes plots of land that were costing money just to maintain. The combined current asset value of the property in question is £9.2 million; the potential realisable value is £150 million.
- Promoting prosperity and enterprise across the District, improving skills and providing a wide choice of local work. This includes launching an ambitious Apprenticeship and Enterprise Programme and securing £1.2 million government funding towards rejuvenation of the North Street Quarter in Lewes.
- Becoming one of 85 councils to secure funding from the Government to continue our weekly refuse collections as well as securing funding to offer a new food waste collection service in July this year. The scheme will be introduced district wide by June this year, doubling recycling rates with very little disruption to residents.
- Although not an Education Authority, The council has forged links with local universities and colleges in the bid to bring a University Technical College to Newhaven. E-ON has recently chosen Newhaven as the planned location for its operations and maintenance base for the nearby offshore wind farm. The move could create up to 85 jobs and see part of Newhaven Port being redeveloped through investment.
Lewes District Council are yet another example of Conservative Councils going the extra mile to encourage outside investment to their area, to the benefit of local people.
I am sometimes asked what more we can also in in Whitehall and that is a fair question. At DCLG we are sharing: As part of the Department's continued commitment to value for money, it currently shares two
senior staff with other Departments—the director for internal audit is shared with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and the deputy director for property asset management is shared with the
Department for Education.
Sir Bob Kerslake also combines his role as Permanent Secretary of the Department with that of Head of the Civil Service.
Also our department has facilitated the sharing of services for audit and estates functions with other Whitehall Departments and IT services with the Planning Inspectorate and is moving towards a shared service for legal advice. In addition we buy common commodities (travel, stationery and training for instance) with other Departments using centrally negotiated agreements. Beyond these arrangements the Department utilises central 'framework' agreements operated by the Government Procurement Service for services including consultancy and interim services.
Remember, If you know of a particularly impressive scheme run by a local authority, please let me know.