|THE STRATEGIC PLAN FOR ST. PETERSBURG
Address by the Governor of St. Petersburg
Declaration of the General Council
The Strategic Plan for St. Petersburg (CONTENTS)
The Main Goal and Principal Strategic Objectives
The Strategic Plan for St. Petersburg: Main Bearings
The creation of a stable social environment and prevention of social conflict are one of the most important objectives of the Strategic Plan.
A stable social environment is taken to mean an environment that ensures equal social opportunities and prevents the arising of sources of social conflict. It is an environment that provides conditions in which different groups of the city population can live and develop; conditions which produce an overall improvement in the quality of life, e.g. longer life expectancy for citizens, lower rates of illness, lower infant death rates, satisfaction with life and confidence in the future, lower suicide rates etc.
Measures to achieve the above goal have been selected in the light of the understanding that what is needed above all is a transition from elimination of the consequences of social blight to confrontation of the causes of such blight. The second basic principle upon which selection is based is that social policy is a form of interaction between individuals, who are responsible for ensuring their own well-being; the government, which provides for the well-being of, and protects, those who cannot do so for themselves; and public associations, which act both as partners to the government and as independent originators of social policy. The city should be less hesitant in asking non-governmental institutions, such as the church or charities, to assist in the provision of social services.
The proposed strategy envisages the creation of an integrated system of social welfare based on balanced consideration and representation of the interests of various population groups. This approach will make it possible to practice a "preventive" social policy capable of diagnosing and "treating" social problems at an early stage, i.e. before they become problems as such.
Enhanced stability of the social environment assumes: the right to a job for all those capable of working; creation of equal opportunities for groups with special social status or special needs; social protection for the socially disadvantaged; health care for all citizens. Special priority should be given to measures to protect children and the family.
In the current situation proper assistance to those in need can be provided if the principle of universal social support is rejected in favor of a system of targeted social assistance based on means tests. Priority measures for this strategy are: development of a system by which incomes can be recorded and checked; identification of criteria for assessment of social need; revision of existing benefits and privileges; introduction of a request-based system for provision of social assistance. The process of subsidizing low-income families has already begun (e.g. in the provision of housing subsidies), but requires further improvement and expansion to cover other types of targeted social assistance. This will make it possible to deliver appropriate levels of help to those who are truly in need.
Provision of equal opportunities for socially disadvantaged citizens should be directed towards certain specific goals, being both varied and specialized at the same time. Priority should be given to programs such as "The city and the handicapped" and "Help for the elderly" and to development of social facilities and services such as homes for the elderly and home help.
There is especial need at the moment for an effective system of social protection for children and the family. Since St. Petersburg has to the present date done so little in this area, it is necessary to begin with introduction of effective legislation to protect the interests of children and families. In addition, the "Integrated program for protection of children and families in St. Petersburg", work on which is to start in the near future, will focus on bringing down levels of homelessness, neglection and hardship amongst children and on creation of a system of support and social rehabilitation centers for children and teenagers.
In order to improve the physical and psychological health of St. Petersburg's citizens and to provide conditions for long and active life it is planned to improve the quality of prophylactic medicine, restructure prophylactic medical care for mothers and infants, develop and implement a targeted program of subsidized prescription of drugs and provide improved access to sports facilities for all sectors of the population.
The Strategic Plan treats development of the educational, cultural, intellectual and spiritual potential of St. Petersburg's citizens as a separate objective. This objective implies nurturing and effective use of the unique resource possessed by the city in what might be described as its special spiritual environment - the Petersburgian cultural and intellectual climate. This resource is made up of an organic combination of cultural, educational and intellectual characteristics possessed by St. Petersburg's citizens. It is this that has traditionally given the city the status of Russia's cultural and intellectual capital. Petersburgers have long been distinguished by their high level of education (both general and specialized); intense interest in cultural values; consciousness of the rights and duties conferred by citizenship; pride in the city in which they live, its history and culture; civilized manners and attitude to life; and politeness.
The above objective can only be achieved if the city can escape from the present situation in which more and more children are for various reasons unable to realize their right to education and are thus excluded from the educational process and exposed to various negative environmental influences. This situation can be changed through diversification of educational programs, an increase in the number of different educational establishments (gymnasiums, lyceums, cadet-training schools, professional schools etc.). Especially important are programs to abolish the "second shift" at schools, eliminate waiting lists at kindergartens and create centers of medical and psychological support for schoolchildren and students.
If the St. Petersburg mentality is to be sustained, this will require improved quality of secondary education and greater integration of children, teenagers and young people into the social and cultural life of the city. It is planned to introduce new educational standards that will guarantee education of a quality appropriate to St. Petersburg's status as a world cultural capital; introduce independent systems for attestation of students; implement ideas laid out in "Bringing up citizens of St. Petersburg"; implement targeted programs for artistic education and support of children's art; and establish a methodological-pedagogical publishing center under the name "Textbooks for St. Petersburg". A special place is to be given to targeted regional programs (under the title "Young people of St. Petersburg") aimed at social adaptation of young people and utilization of their potential in development of the city. Taken together, these measures will unite the efforts of various committees in the city administration, the general public, parents and children themselves so as to preserve and nourish that distinctly Petersburgian spiritual and intellectual potential which is one of the city's major strategic resources.
Acceleration of resolution of the housing problem should reduce the acuteness of one of the most painful social issues troubling the city. For this purpose it is proposed to increase provision of housing for low-income and socially disadvantaged sections of the population, whilst also offering subsidies and credit on special terms for the purchase of housing. A new initiative will be the creation of a municipal housing stock by means of acquisition of apartments on the secondary market and through reconstruction of hostels and five-story buildings. The municipal housing-loan system will be further developed, focusing mainly on future buyers of apartments.
Wide introduction of mortgage schemes will generate increased demand for housing and will stimulate the commercial construction business. Only the practice of financing acquisition of housing from a variety of sources (e.g. compensation for the value of accommodation from which a citizen is moving out; municipal subsidies; personal savings; payment by installments or by mortgage) will make it possible for large sections of the general population gradually to improve their housing conditions.
Solution of the housing problem will also be helped by development of the system of cooperative housing, development of loans-and-savings housing associations and by encouraging private citizens to build their own houses. It is crucial to modernize the construction industry in order to reduce the cost of housing. Also important are accelerated redistribution of housing and development of the secondary real-estate market. One of the most important objectives is implementation of the program for reconstruction of old housing stock - a measure which, apart from providing a solution to the most serious housing problems (i.e. by eliminating communal apartments and shortening waiting lists for municipal housing), will also improve St. Petersburg's urban environment in general. Plans for the future include modernization of housing stock of the first period of mass housing construction.
Thus the main principle of St. Petersburg's new housing policy is to substantially expand the ways and means in which citizens may purchase housing in accordance with their income level and social status.
Another important issue is reform of housing-management and housing-maintenance services. The existing system of maintenance and repair of housing stock is failing to keep buildings and adjoining territories in a proper technical and sanitary condition. This sector of public services should be reformed with a view to setting up commercial and mixed public/commercial structures interested in providing cost-effective management.
The principal task implied by reform of the system of housing-management and housing-maintenance services is to improve quality of service whilst reducing service costs. The latter requires the creation of a competitive environment by means of: demonopolization of the provision of maintenance and management services; separation of the functions of housing management and housing maintenance by assigning these to management organizations, on the one hand, and to repair and maintenance organizations, on the other; introduction of tenders to select contractors; commercialization of state-run maintenance and repair organizations; development of owners' associations (condominia) capable of assuming management functions. The proposed steps will lead to a reduction in expenditure on such services from the city exchequer; at the same time, a system of rent subsidies must be introduced to provide means-tested assistance to low-income households.
Lack of funds in the municipal and federal exchequers has been responsible for a large reduction in public-transport services in St. Petersburg over the last few years. In view of the acuteness of this problem - which affects all sections of the population - there is need for a major restructuring of public transport. Improvement of the quality of the city's public-transport service will be achieved by optimizing routing of services to take account of actual passenger flows over various routes; increasing rolling-stock levels for all kinds of public transport; and by implementing measures to preserve and develop the tram network in the center of the city.
It is proposed to improve road-traffic management through: increased use of automated traffic-control systems; prioritization of public-transport vehicles over private traffic; better route information, through provision of route-information systems on major roads; restrictions on access to the city center for motor vehicles.
In addition to the above measures regarding improvement of public transport and road-traffic management, work must be done on expanding the practice of funding the city's transport system from additional (non-state) sources.
The Strategic Plan proposes specific reforms to the system of municipal and regional administration. The work of local authorities should be focused on ensuring satisfaction of the requirements of the community and business; professional standards should be raised amongst personnel; the administration process should be made more open so as to increase public control; the actions of civil servants should be subject to fuller regulation. The fundamental principle for the work of the city administration should be service to the city and its citizens, and the principal form of relations between the city administration and citizens should be contractual. The city administration should support all valuable initiatives issuing from residents of the city, and should facilitate development amongst its citizens of various forms of self-government and independent organization in the understanding that the latter constitute the blocks from which a civic society may be built.
To this end it is proposed to: establish a system of information, coordination and training centers to encourage the development of public associations (including the House of Democracy); pass laws "On Contracts of a Social Nature" and "On Public Specialist Reviews of Targeted Programs"; set up a council for work with public associations under the Governor of St. Petersburg; adopt procedures to ensure the involvement of public and other interested organizations in preparation of laws and normative acts together with the city administration and the Legislative Assembly.
To improve coordination and partnership with Leningrad Region it is proposed, amongst other measures, to set up permanent structures and procedures for cooperation in decisions of regional importance and pass a law "On the Status of the Suburbs of St. Petersburg".
The Strategic Plan also takes as one of its goals the creation of safety conditions for individuals, families and the community. This goal reflects the importance of reducing man-made and natural hazards to the population and of improving social security. Radiation is the most serious man-made danger; to counter it, the plan proposes development and implementation of a strategy to ensure safe and stable operation of radioactive facilities (in particular, the Leningrad Nuclear Power Station). In the sphere of social security the need is for consolidation of efforts to improve law and order, fight the causes of crime and reduce social tension.
4. Establishment of a favorable social environment
4.1. Establishment of a stable social environment
4.1.1. Raise employment rates. Contain the growth, and mitigate the social implications, of unemployment. Develop an effective system of industrial-safety management
4.1.2. Reform the system of social support and targeted social aid to citizens of St. Petersburg
4.1.3. Develop an efficient system of social protection for children and families
4.1.4. Ensure equal social opportunities for persons of special social status and with special needs (the handicapped, the elderly, orphans etc.)
4.1.5. Ensure preservation and improvement of the physical condition and psychic health of citizens and long active life for each individual
4.1.6. Develop a system to monitor the city's social environment
4.2. Development of the educational, cultural and intellectual potential of St. Petersburg's citizens
4.2.1. Guarantee citizens' right to education and develop the system of social and pedagogical protection of children
4.2.2. Improve the quality of school education and the extent of children's involvement in the life of the city
4.2.3. Ensure that the young are socially involved and that their potential is exploited in the development of the city
4.2.4. Preserve and exploit the city's cultural and historical heritage
4.3. Accelerated resolution of the housing problem
4.3.1. Improve housing conditions FOR low-income and socially disadvantaged citizens
4.3.2. Increase market demand for housing
4.3.3. Maintain and renovate the city's housing stock
4.4. Reform of the housing-maintenance and housing-management services
4.4.1. Develop a competitive environment and effective system of housing-stock management and maintenance
4.4.2. Rationalize the system of rent rates and charges with due regard for social protection of the population
4.5. Restructure management of public transport and road maintenance in St. Petersburg
4.5.1. Provide a normative and legislative framework for the operation and development of public transport and road maintenance in the market economy
4.5.2. Renovate mechanisms for management of the public-transport system and road and bridge maintenance facilities
4.5.3. Expand financing from alternative sources
4.5.4. Improve traffic management
4.6. Improvement of the quality of administration of the city and region
4.6.1. Promote the development of a civic society; create conditions for partnership between public associations and local authorities in resolving the city's problems
4.6.2. Orient the activities of the city administration towards satisfying the requirements of citizens and business
4.6.3. Improve quality of personnel in the city administration
4.6.4. Create a system of telecommunications and information support for activities of the city administration
4.6.5. Consolidate coordination and partnership ties with Leningrad Region
4.6.6. Create systems of local self-government focused on the needs of The public
4.7. Create conditions for public safety
4.7.1. Reduce exposure of population to man-made and natural dangers
4.7.2. Improve the social security of individuals, families and the community at large