At Work: Partnerships - Compact in action - Compact Week Compliance Survey

John Plummer

Hertfordshire reveals itself to be the least Compact-friendly county in the country.

Six local authority districts have failed to make a start on developing local Compacts, according to figures released for Compact Week 2006, which begins today.

Two of the oddities - Three Rivers and Welwyn Hatfield - are in Hertfordshire, making it the least Compact-friendly county in the country.

Brentwood in Essex, Allerdale in Cumbria, the City of London and the Scilly Isles have also made no progress, even though the Government called for the creation of local Compacts as long ago as 1998.

Of the 388 districts, 360 (93 per cent) have published Compacts and 22 (6 per cent) have plans to do so. The remaining six districts represent just 1 per cent of the total.

Since last year's Compact Week, 50 local Compacts have been created and the Government has appointed John Stoker as chair of the Commission for the Compact and Angela Sibson as chief executive (Third Sector, 11 October and 30 August).

Newham last month became the last London borough to announce plans for its Compact. Leicester, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Rochdale are also recent converts. Leicester is regarded as significant because of the 2004 court case between charities and the city's council over proposed cuts to voluntary sector core funding.

"Leicester started late because of the row, but we are expecting it to have a Compact in place by March," says Paul Barasi, development officer at Compact Voice, formerly the Compact Working Group.

Dorset was the first to adopt a local Compact, in 1999. Progress has since been slow but local versions of the document have now been published throughout Yorkshire and Humberside and the north east.

However, getting them published is just the first step towards creating better relations between the voluntary and public sectors. Barasi says it is vital that the Government provides enough resources in the year ahead to ensure districts have the capacity to breathe life into their documents.

To mark Compact Week, Stoker made his first appearance in his new role when he visited Birmingham on 6 November. England's second city established a Commission for the Voluntary Sector before agreeing its local Compact.

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