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Interim Evaluation of the Castlemilk Partnership - Research Findings

DescriptionThis report provides an interim evaluation of the Castlemilk Partnership, one of 4 major partnership initiatives established as part of the Government's New Life for Urban Scotland policy.
ISBN0 7480 2941 9
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998
Environment Research Programme Research Findings No. 12 (1995)
Interim Evaluation of the Castlemilk Partnership)

Mo O'Toole, Dawn Snape and Murray Stewart

ISBN 0-7480-2941-9Publisher The Scottish OfficePrice £5.00
Research by the School for Advanced Urban Studies at the University of Bristol evaluates the Castlemilk Partnership, one of four major urban partnership initiatives involving public, private and non-statutory sectors within the Government's New Life for Urban Scotland policy.
Main findings
  • Significant progress in diversification of housing tenure has been achieved and the quality and range of choice of housing has markedly widened. A real, if fragile, housing market has begun to exist. Castlemilk is perceived more favourably by residents and there has been an increase in the numbers of people wishing to stay in or move back to Castlemilk.
  • Some success in relation to population retention and attraction is offset, however, by continuing losses, although during the period of evaluation the rate of population loss had substantially slowed down. The Partnership's original objective of increasing the population to 25,000 has not been met and has subsequently been agreed at 15,000-16,000.
  • There has been a stimulus to local (mainly small and community-based) business but little impetus in the creation of larger numbers of local jobs.
  • There has been significant investment in raising the skills and competitiveness of residents and efforts have been made to support those most disadvantaged in the labour market. Only a small number of local construction jobs, however, have gone to Castlemilk residents.
  • Some of the consequences of poverty have been alleviated but it is beyond the power of the Partnership to significantly reduce poverty given the existence of national policies on levels of, and access to, benefits.
  • Innovative practices in education, health and community care have begun to emerge, marked by both inter-professional collaboration and community involvement.
  • The community has been closely involved in strategy creation and implementation but the ultimate purpose and objectives of such involvement remain unclear and there is little sign of long term community empowerment.
  • Partnership working has been an important learning experience in multi agency co-operation between government and community and between departments and professions within government.
  • Resources expended elsewhere would be unlikely to have produced similar outputs without the catalytic effects of the Partnership.
Castlemilk is a major peripheral estate on the southern edge of Glasgow. Its population has halved from a high point of 37,000 in 1971 and at the outset of the Partnership the estate was characterised by low average income households, high unemployment, low skill levels, low educational attainment, unpopular housing in poor condition, a degraded environment, inadequate shopping and commercial facilities, high crime levels and fear of crime, a poor health record, high demand for social and public services, and a poor public image within and outwith the estate.
The Partnership
The Castlemilk Partnership, involving public, private and non-statutory sectors, was established in 1988 on the base of an earlier small scale local initiative (which had a strong community network) and the firm prospect of significant ongoing housing investment from Glasgow District Council and the soon to be created Scottish Homes. The Castlemilk Strategy represented the culmination of an extended debate with the community on the direction and objectives of the Partnership. Its central goal was:
"To create in Castlemilk a well functioning suburb, better integrated with the Glasgow conurbation but with more local jobs and services."
Within this overall goal the primary operational aim was 'to arrest population decline and stabilise the population at around 20,000 and thereafter to aim for growth toward 25,000'.
These objectives were to be pursued in accordance with guiding Partnership principles which committed the partners to build on existing developments, to promote community involvement, to address the needs of existing residents, to encourage the participation of the private sector, to deliver projects of consistently high quality, to adopt realistic targets and timescales with the resources available, to offer a balanced approach, and not to export problems to other areas.
The Castlemilk Partnership is not a legally constituted body. It is 'a committee of independent organisations' not taking policy or resource allocation decisions on behalf of its constituent members but nevertheless significantly influencing their policies and programmes.
A Partnership Group guides strategic decision making, supported by an administrative Partnership Team led by a senior civil servant from The Scottish Office. A system of sub-groups draws in a wide variety of interests to ensure effective implementation as well as providing forums for emergent new issues. A defining feature of the work of the Partnership is its flexibility, responsiveness to local concerns, and ability to consider new issues as they emerge. The Education and Youth strategies, both of which emerged from community pressure, are examples of this.
The Partners in 1995
  • Castlemilk Business Support Group
  • Castlemilk Economic Development Agency
  • Castlemilk Umbrella Group
  • Employment Service
  • Glasgow District Council
  • Greater Glasgow Health Board
  • Glasgow Development Agency
  • Scottish Homes
  • The Scottish Office
  • Strathclyde Regional Council
The process of tenure diversification has begun and there have been major improvements to the housing stock and in housing choice. Over £110m has been spent or committed to social housing and £20m private sector investment (including one third subsidy) has been made; a third of the dwellings have been improved; six housing associations and co-operatives have been formed; the size of the municipal stock has been reduced by over 25% (largely through stock transfer to other social housing landlords). In addition there has been extensive investment in local environmental improvement, in safety, in security, in traffic management and in insulation and heating. Concierge facilities, and design improvements such as storey height reductions have all contributed to a better managed housing and physical environment.
There has been an increase in the numbers of people wishing to stay in or move back to Castlemilk, and an increased recognition of Castlemilk as a positive place to live. Requests to move into Castlemilk doubled between 1988 and 1992. A real, if fragile, local housing market involving municipal, social landlord and private ownership is emerging. Continuing change in this direction, however, will rely on levels of private and public investment (£132m) as large as those of the first five years. The six year housing investment programme planned by the Partnership (in 1994) is a major contribution towards this need.
Economy and employment
With little prospect of attracting major employers to the estate, the Partnership has concentrated on raising the skills of local people and improving access to employment opportunities elsewhere. A new Job Centre, the Employment Service's Castlemilk Caseload Initiative, the Langside College outreach programme, the CEDA Training and Employment Shop, and support from the Glasgow Development Agency's Training and Enterprise Grant Scheme have all combined (and sometimes overlapped) to offer employment related services to residents. This has resulted in over 1800 job placements and over 500 training places from CEDA (the Castlemilk Economic Development Agency). Whilst unemployment has fallen towards the Glasgow average, Castlemilk has during the course of the evaluation been a net exporter of the unemployed and as a consequence the true impact of these initiatives is unclear. The changing population structure may be as significant an influence on employment and unemployment in Castlemilk as training and job creation measures. Long term unemployment continues at high levels whilst the most recent Household Survey indicates high levels of inactivity associated with illness.
With only a small number of local construction jobs associated with the housing investment programme created, employment targeting has been disappointing (although discussions are in hand to target both East Kilbride employers as well as the major retailer involved with the long awaited central area shopping store).
Land use and environment
Castlemilk has little vacant land suitable for immediate development, and land-use and environmental programmes have been directed as much towards the tidying up of unattractive and dangerous sites as bringing land back into productive use. Those vacant sites which are available have been targeted for housing and limited industrial development with the central Glenwood area emerging as the strategic focus for the local economy. Improved street lighting and pavements in the centre of Castlemilk have contributed to greater perceptions of security and well-being for residents. Improved safety measures to existing roads have decreased the potential for accidents. The maintenance and augmentation of public transport services both within and outwith the estate has provided greater access to facilities in Castlemilk and elsewhere.
Social and community
The Partnership has reinforced its commitment to social and community planning and there is evidence of new and innovative approaches to the delivery of community services. Statutory organisations have been receptive to learning about new, responsive and more co-ordinated ways of addressing severe social concerns.
High levels of satisfaction have been recorded with schools and with the focused training of teachers. Within a high profile Education Strategy initiatives have begun to close a perceived 'gap' between professionals and community. Community Education is now more explicitly linked with economic and employment issues in relation to preparation for training and entry to work.
The processes underlying the production of the innovative Community Care Plan reflect extensive co-operation between service users and carers and a higher level of user and carer group involvement in service planning than is typical. Also prominent is the linkage between housing and employment issues made in the planning of community care through child care provision. Health provides further examples of a community-based approach yielding major benefits in terms of quality of life improvements. Crime rates have decreased as has fear of crime, and property related crime has fallen significantly, perhaps as a consequence of the improved environment and investment in security.
Elimination of poverty and alleviation of its effects have been one of the most visible elements of the community's strategy for Castlemilk and considerable efforts have gone to ensure that the impact of poverty is reduced as far as possible for Castlemilk residents. Advice services have been enhanced and initiatives which save costs have been initiated in the fields of energy, diet, housing insulation, maintenance and repair, and clothing.
Incomes, however, remain low in Castlemilk. Dependence upon benefits remains high - higher in 1994 than in 1990 - though reliance on benefits throughout Glasgow has grown during the same period. Increased benefits take-up is positive insofar as it indicates that Castlemilk residents are becoming more aware of the assistance available and are better able to access it. In 1994 residents felt more confident than four years before that they were receiving the benefits to which they were entitled. The much sought after local Castlemilk DSS Office, however, has not been provided.
Findings from the 1994 Household Survey provide clear evidence of continuing poverty in Castlemilk, as does the workload of the Credit Union and the demand for the services of Second Opportunities. High proportions of residents continue to travel beyond the estate to buy food and other essential items; the majority of residents had not taken a holiday in the previous year; and most do not own a vehicle.
Increased satisfaction with Castlemilk is a key signal of growing confidence in, and heightened self image of the estate. The Castlemilk Marketing Strategy has now brought more coherence to publicity, communication, identification and marketing. A logo, media training (for residents) and a Community newspaper have brought greater awareness both of the Partnership and of the improvements made on the estate.
The Partnership has no overall budget and maintains no central record of expenditure within the area. Identifiable expenditures are dominated by housing spend which accounts for around 75% of a total of at least £120m public sector capital expenditure over the five years of the Partnership so far.
The bulk of the outputs in Castlemilk would not have been achieved without the Partnership. Thus it is clear that the Partnership has had a significant impact on redistributive and equity grounds.
In terms of displacement however the resources used in Castlemilk (particularly the subsidised housing inputs) could have produced at least the same and probably more output if used elsewhere. Having said that, resources expended elsewhere would probably not have produced similar outputs without the catalytic effects of the Partnership.
The partnership process
Partnership working has been an important learning experience in multi agency co-operation between central and local government and other government agencies, as well as between government and community, and between departments and professions within government. Innovation has been particularly evident within the social and community elements of the strategy (with reference to health, community care, security and safety, and education for example). The informal networking processes of the Partnership (from which the community has on occasion perceived itself to be excluded) are more significant for networking and developing partnership in practice than the formal partnership meetings. Both formal and informal processes, however, are crucial to the success of the Partnership.
The history of relations between the community and the Partnership has been one of strong and positive collaboration. Nevertheless community fears over the role of CEDA, the shopping centre, and the use of the Glenwood School site, have demonstrated that collaboration has also occasionally been characterised by traditional tensions between confrontation and incorporation and reflect the long history of community action in Castlemilk.
The other non-governmental partner, the private sector, operates largely through the Business Support Group, and has been less active in Partnership strategy building. It has focused rather on education and training issues.
The pace of change in Castlemilk has been seen as too slow by some (anxious for more progress on the ground and unsympathetic to the long drawn out strategy development stage) and too fast by others (conscious of the need to involve the community fully and to give voice to all possible interests). On balance, the politics of Partnership produces enough impetus without building in more haste.
Though the scale of the Castlemilk Partnership is greater than the other three Urban Partnerships, methods of working, partnership style and specific local organisational cultures are probably more significant for success than scale.
Strengths and weaknesses
Overall the relative weaknesses of the Castlemilk Partnership approach have been:
  • the inability - at least in the early years of the initiative - to successfully mobilise around issues of economy and employment.
  • uncertainty about the appropriate role for the private sector in Partnership machinery and activities.
  • confusion - perhaps inevitable - over the tension between allowing time for community involvement and empowerment on the one hand and streamlining the delivery of major investment programmes on the other.
  • ambiguity over the operational function of the Partnership Group (as opposed to its important role in endorsing and maintaining commitment in the Partnership in general).
  • Conversely the key strengths of the Castlemilk Partnership at this stage of its existence are:
  • a high level political commitment to the policy in general and to the Castlemilk Partnership in particular on the part of The Scottish Office and other main actors.
  • a high level of resource support (notably to housing renewal programmes) achieved through priority and top sliced funding arrangements.
  • the impetus given to collaborative work by the Partnership Team in Castlemilk and the capacity and will of a number of governmental bodies (central and local) to develop a more responsive local presence.
  • the involvement of the local community in the initial strategy development and in continuing social development programmes.
Future issues
  • Proposals for the future of the Castlemilk Partnership include:
  • a review and rationalisation of monitoring in the second stage of Partnership.
  • the further exchange of good practice in urban regeneration between the four Urban Partnerships and others.
  • a shift in emphasis in the managerial culture of Partnership from a development ethos to a maintenance and management ethos.
  • greater recognition of the crucial importance of small scale revenue funding to the maintenance of a strong community input to Castlemilk.
  • commitment to further urgent forward planning for "exit" including laying a basis for more effective community involvement and the design and establishment of "successor bodies".
"Interim Evaluation of the Castlemilk Partnership", the research report summarised in this Research Findings, may be purchased (price £5 per copy).
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