Environmental Sustainability and Best Value

A report by the Centre concerning research conducted for Manchester City Council on combining environmental sustainability and Best Value.


Introduction: Environmental sustainability and Best Value are both relatively new areas of work for local authorities. Consequently, the integration of the two areas is a major challenge. Little guidance is available on ways to link environmental sustainability policies and the practical work of Best Value.

Manchester City Council began a thematic review of environmental sustainability in 2000. The Centre for Public Services conducted research to support the Council's work which was completed in November.

A survey investigated the approach taken to environmental sustainability by 16 local authorities. The context for the work was provided through a national survey of 400 authorities conducted by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to assess progress on sustainability in relation to Local Agenda 21.

Definitions: There are numerous interpretations and definitions of sustainable development and environmental sustainability. In this study environmental sustainability broadly refers to issues concerning the environment. This includes social and economic factors that relate specifically to environmental policy.

Key Issues: The research shows that many authorities nationally are developing their work in environmental sustainability, but attempts to progress under Best Value have been marred by uncertainty and inconsistent approaches. The research highlighted different aspects to the role played by local authorities:

  • Coordinating role in which they work with other local, regional and national organisations and user groups, as well as the private sector, to promote environmental sustainability principles.
  • Management role whereby environmental sustainability issues are mainstreamed through all council policy and service delivery.
  • Educative role in which authority purchasing policies are used to instil environmental sustainability ideals in its relationship with suppliers. This role extends to encouraging community involvement.

Recommendations: Different services have differing effects on the environment, making it difficult to be prescriptive when applying sustainability principles to Best Value. However, the following recommendations address the weaknesses identified by the Best Value review team.

  • Develop action plans and set targets in improvement plans which meet fixed environmental sustainability criteria. These criteria should apply to in-house services and private contractors.
  • Conduct comparative assessments of the environmental impact of all service delivery proposals and options.
  • Incorporate sustainability in Best Value to ensure that an environmental perspective is incorporated in all policies at every stage of the process. This should include the publication of environmental sustainability programmes and progress in local performance plans and annual reports.

For a copy of the full report contact: Centre for Public Services, 1 Sidney Street, Sheffield S1 4RG Tel 0114-272 7066 Fax 0114-272 7066

The report is priced at £10.00 plus £2.00 p&p.


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This document was created by Chris Croome on 2003-10-31 19:38:42.
This document was last modified by Adam Moran on 2011-12-15 13:30:16.
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