Published: 20/12/2001, Volume III, No.5786 Page 30 31
The Regeneration Maze Revisited By Teresa Edmans and Grisel Tarifa
Publisher: The King's Fund. 105 pages.£3.
ISBN: 1857174577. www. kingsfundbookshop. org. uk
This is a reference guide for those involved in regeneration in London. It is not meant to be read from cover to cover: 'We expect the reader to dip into it as and when needed.'
'Maze' is an apt term for regeneration policy.The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as 'a network of paths designed as a puzzle, a labyrinth, a confused mass'.
This review covers more than 30 'initiatives', each of which has its own purpose - health, employment, crime prevention, education, training and business support.Money can come from Europe, the national lottery and various government sources.
Then there are area-based initiatives, including the single regeneration budget, new deal for communities, various zones and neighbourhood management pathfinders, and agencies that are supposed to set the context for them.
At national level, two units are highlighted: the neighbourhood renewal unit (Department of Transport, Local Government and Regions) and the active community unit (Home Office).
London is unique in having an elected mayor and Assembly that potentially provide a coherent strategic framework for regeneration.
The London Health Commission, which seeks to benefit the health of Londoners by influencing policies across the capital, has been undertaking a health impact assessment of mayoral strategies on economic development.This could provide a model for regional government in other areas.
The book could have given greater prominence to initiatives intended to provide a long-term local strategic framework, particularly local strategic partnerships and community strategies.Community strategies and neighbourhood renewal strategies are intended to provide the map for navigating the maze, ensuring that initiatives are co-ordinated and relate to the mainstream programmes.
While the document does not attempt to analyse regeneration policy, this descriptive profiling raises critical questions.The initiatives have been generated by nine different government departments.
As the Cabinet Office's own research has identified: 'The bureaucracy and complexity of the regeneration process itself is a major obstacle to successful social and economic regeneration. In particular, the process itself stacks the odds against the very communities that we are seeking to help.'
But much depends on local players making sense of the maze.
1Reaching Out: the role of central government at regional and local level.