Review of operating options for the Birmingham Environment Partnership: Lessons for the Green Commission

Date of the report

June 2014

Author of the report

Sustainability West Midlands

Purpose of the report

To provide lessons and examples to the Birmingham Green Commission, local authorities and local enterprise partnerships reviewing partnership structures to help deliver local climate change ambitions.

Strategic issues

  • Be clear on what the overall vision, strategy, objectives, targets and geographic coverage is for any local green or climate change strategy.
  • Be clear on if and where partnership working will add value to achieve the agreed objectives and focus on achieving this, rather than trying to coordinate a range of overlapping and competing agendas.
  • Differentiate influencing others activities either across the council and city, or within the scope of the partnership, and the direct responsibility for more focused programme development and delivery. Both are important but require a different skill set and attract different individuals and partners.
  • Give the local authority and the relevant elected cabinet member the overall responsibility for any local partnership strategy, linked back to scrutiny committee process. This ensures local elected community leadership and accountability for our future.

Operational issues

  • If there have been previous operational or delivery issues, put more emphasis on addressing these rather than rewriting another strategy.
  • Be clear on the responsibilities, roles, and accountability of named individuals at the appropriate level within the council and partner bodies to deliver agreed actions and projects.
  • Use an independent and credible organisation to help coordinate the reporting of progress and sharing of good practice to provide another source of advice to elected officials and to build more confidence from partners and funders engaging with the council and wider initiatives.
  • Consider a dedicated unit or arms length body with local cross-party support to help coordinate and drive the change required so technical expertise can be built up and retained, programmes managed, new sources of funding accessed, and longer-term certainty created for investors.

The rest of the report is the re-issued discussion papers, options assessments, consultation responses and recommendations generated by an independent review commissioned by SWM to test our original proposal  in 2011, see Annex C, and other options to carry forward the future functions of BEP.

Of particular interest is the options appraisal assessment in section 3 and Annex B which describes other examples and models of partnerships elsewhere, which although many have changed and moved on, it does indicate what is possible.

Contact information

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SWM-BEP lessons for Green Commission-June14