Some partnerships need to be strategic in nature so they can address service requirements that need to be planned over a wide geographic area. Others are more local in focus so they can identify and act upon the needs of the local community.
District area local strategic partnerships (LSPs) bring together, at a local level the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to help identify the needs of communities and to work with local people to address these needs. They are non-executive bodies, but they are the main vehicle for community engagement with local partnership working to develop local community strategies based on a shared vision for the future of their area agreed by agencies and endorsed by the local community.
There is also a Lancashire Strategic Partnership developing a community strategy for the whole county, focussing on the 'big issues' facing Lancashire and adding value to the themes emerging from the LSPs in each district area.
Many of the key partner organisations in Lancashire operate at a sub-regional, county-wide or regional level. These include the Lancashire and Cumbria Strategic Health Authority and the eight Primary Care Trusts in Lancashire, the Lancashire Learning and Skills Council, Connexions, Lancashire Police Authority and Constabulary, the Lancashire Combined Fire Authority and the Fire and Rescue Service, the North West Development Agency, Government Office North West and many other organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Sustaining effective partnership arrangements involves the commitment of substantial energy and resources from all partners, at all levels. Aligning partners' Lancashire level plans and programmes to the aspirations of 12 district councils and district-based LSPs in Lancashire is a major challenge for these agencies. This multiplicity of partnerships can result in "partnership fatigue" and can overstretch and dilute the capacity of partner organisations to deliver the full potential benefits of effective partnership working.
The North West Development Agency, for example, is now seeking a unified Lancashire-wide approach to regeneration and economic investment development rather than working through the two sub-regional partnerships covering East and West Lancashire.
Under a New Council for Lancashire, the existing 12 Local Strategic Partnerships in Lancashire will become 12 district partnerships forming an integral part of the Lancashire Strategic Partnership. As the local component of that structure they will be the prime vehicle for engaging local communities, preparing district community plans and feeding the local dimension through to the strategic community planning role of the Lancashire-wide partnership.
In this way, a New Council for Lancashire, allied to a Lancashire Strategic Partnership, will enable county and regional level partners to respond more strategically and effectively to the community planning agenda. Partners will be able to engage with that agenda at the level that is the most effective for them, given their service planning structures, thereby maximising their input to partnership working and improving service outcomes for local people.