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BEACON COUNCILS ADVISORY PANEL APPOINTED

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The membership of the independent panel which will advise ministers on the selection of beacon councils was announc...
The membership of the independent panel which will advise ministers on the selection of beacon councils was announced today by local government minister Hilary Armstrong.

The chair of the panel will be Geoffrey Filkin, originally the Joseph Rowntree Foundation nominee on the panel, who will be supported by Bob Clarke, the CBI nominee on the panel, as deputy chair.

The panel is made up of a mixture of academics, business people, local government figures, experts in relevant service areas and representatives of service users.

Hilary Armstrong said: 'This independent panel has a key role in advising government on our selection of beacon councils. I am confident that the combined experience and expertise of such a strong line-up of panel members will enable us to select as beacon councils those local authorities with the most to share.'

Nine panel members have been appointed on the nomination of particular organisations: the Local Government Association (2 members), National Consumer Council, National Council for Voluntary Organisations, CBI, British Chambers of Commerce, Trade Unions (nominated by the TUC), Audit Commission and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

In addition seven members of the panel have been appointed as experts in each of the seven service areas chosen for the first year of the beacon scheme. In the first year the service areas are: community safety; tackling school failure; modernising planning; housing maintenance; improving housing and council tax benefit

administration; helping care leavers and dealing with waste.

Biographies of the panel members are attached. Following the appointment of Geoffrey Filkin as Chair of the Panel a new nomination will be sought from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

NOTES

The beacon council scheme has been established by the government to select a number of councils to act as pace setters and centres of excellence. Through a nationally co-ordinated programme, organised by the Improvement and Development Agency, they will help spread good practice around the country through open days, secondments and

publications.

For the first year of the scheme 269 applications have been received from 211 councils.

The beacon council scheme will have two phases - the first will focus on spreading best practice, the second will, in addition, allow new freedoms and flexibilities to be tested. The scheme is open to all English county and district councils, including unitary and metropolitan district councils, and London boroughs.

In the first year of the scheme, councils will be able to seek beacon status for up to three out of the following seven priority service and cross-cutting areas:

- community safety: preventing local shopping and town centre crime and disorder

- education: helping to raise standards by tackling school failure

- housing: improving housing maintenance

- modernising planning: streamlining planning decisions for business - modern service delivery: improving housing andcouncil tax benefit administration

- social services: helping care leavers

- sustainable development: dealing with waste

5. Some different service areas will be chosen each year. All chosen areas will reflect the concerns of local people, be able to deliver tangible benefits to the community and be areas where the beacon scheme can deliver real improvements.

6. The panel's responsibilities will include:

- Preparation of a list of potential beacon councils

- Undertaking further assessment of those councils, including as a result of presentations to be made to members of the Panel by all shortlisted authorities, to evaluate their performance and ability to spread best practice

- Recommending a shortlist from which Ministers will select the beacon councils; and from the second year onwards:

- Advising ministers on the services and cross-cutting service areas to be chosen each year

- Advising ministers on the selection criteria for beacon councils; preparing an annual report on the work of the panel

7. The chair of the advisory panel was selected from a list of candidates in accordance with guidance published by the Office of the Commission for Public Appointments (OCPA).

8. The advisory panel will be assisted by DETR officials and the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government.

9. The final selection of beacon councils will be made by ministers, based on the advice of the panel. The role of the panel will be reviewed from time to time and in the light of legislation.

BIOGRAPHIES

Chair

Geoffrey Filkin works as an independent policy analyst and writer on local government. He is local government advisor to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and is a non-executive director of the New Local Government Network. He has worked the public sector for 25 years, latterly as secretary of the Association of District Councils where he worked with others to bring about a single local authority association, the LGA. Prior to the ADC he was chief executive of Reading Council, director of housing at LB Greenwich and before that for Ellesmere Port and Neston Council. He was deputy chief executive of Merseyside Improved Houses and prior that set up the Brent Housing

Aid Centre and worked as a town planner. He was appointed CBE in 1997 and a life peer in 1999.

Deputy chair

Bob Clarke (CBI nominee on the panel) has over 20 years experience in local government, including 7 years as director of highways and planning at Berkshire CC. In 1993 he led the externalisation (under Voluntary Competitive Tendering) of these services to Babtie Group Ltd and is now managing director in charge of Managed Professional Services. Babtie's outsourcing business employs over 900 people - most transferred from local authorities - and provides technical and professional services to 18 councils as well as a range of other clients. He is involved in the CBI's procurement panel and the Institution of Civil Engineers' best value task force.

Nominees

Ian Bruce (National Council for Voluntary Organisations nominee) is the director-general of the Royal National Institute for the Blind, one of Britain's largest charities. After an initial career in marketing at Unilever, he moved to Age Concern, becoming its assistant director in 1972. In 1974 he became director of the

National Centre for Volunteering (UK). Following this, he moved into local government where he became assistant chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham LBC. In 1991 he founded the Centrefor Voluntary Sector and Not for Profit Management (now known as VOLPROF) at City University Business School where he is a visiting professor. He is its honorary director.

Jack Dromey (TUC nominee) is the national organiser for the 300,000 service sector of the Transport and General Workers Union. He leads for the union in both the local government and defence sectors. He has been responsible for pioneering partnership agreements and the work of the TUC in building a social partnership in the public sector bringing together public employers, private contractors, the voluntary sector and the trade unions.

Peter Heginbotham (British Chambers of Commerce nominee) has worked with the various local authorities in the Manchester area as former president of Manchester Chamber of Commerce and Industry and deputy chairman of Manchester TEC Limited. He gave evidence to the environment, transport and regional affairs committee on behalf of the chamber in its inquiry into local government finance. He has a keen interest in effective partnerships between local authorities and the business community.

George Jones (National Consumer Council nominee) has been professor of government at the London School of Economics since 1976. He lectures on public administration and political studies and has authored, co-authored and edited a number of books and articles on British central and local government. He was appointed a member of

the NCC in 1991 and was chair of its public services committee (1992-98). He was a member of the Layfield Commission on local government finance (1974-76) and of the DoE's joint working party on the Internal Management of Local Authorities (1992-93).

Harry G Jones CBE (LGA nominee) is one of two vice-chairmen of the Local Government Association and is the leader of Newport CBC and of the Welsh Local Government Association. He was for several years chairman of the former Local Government Management Board and now serves on one of its successors, the Employers Organisation. He also chairs the LGA's task group on democracy and governance, and is a member of the Central Local Partnership.

Peter Soulsby (Audit Commission) has been a member of Leicester City Council since 1973 and its Leader from 1981-94 and from 1995-99. He has been a member of the Audit Commission since 1994 and is also a member of the British Waterways Board. He is a former teacher of children with special needs.

Vivienne Sugar (LGA nominee) is chief executive of the City and County of Swansea. Previously she was director of housing at Cardiff (to 1995) and at Newport (to 1990). She was an adviser to the Council of Welsh Districts (CWD) and Association of District Councils (ADC) to 1996 and is now a chief executive adviser to the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA). She is chair of SOLACE Wales (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), and is involved in various government, Audit Commission and professional advisory groups concerning modernisation, best value, social exclusion, management development and Home Office services.

Michael P Bailey (housing maintenance) has been actively involved in tenant participation and tenant management for the last 10 years. He has been trained in, and had experience of, many aspects of estate management, including policy development. He has recently served on a DETR advisory panel on good practice in tenant participation and is currently working with the DETR on the feasibility of setting up a London-based Resource Centre for Tenant Management Organisations. He was Treasurer of South Hampstead Housing Co-operative Ltd from April 1991 to October 1997 and is now the secretary of that Tenant Management Organisation, and also serves on two local Housing TMO liaison Committees. In addition he is the secretary of the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations.

Graeme Bell (planning) was appointed director of the Town and Country Panning Association in 1998. He is a chartered town planner and chartered surveyor and also holds a postgraduate qualification in landscape architecture. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In a career in local government spanning thirty years, he worked for a number of local authorities including the GLC and Hertfordshire CC as well as Washington New Town Development Corporation. He spent five years as county planning officer for Lancashire CC. In 1997-98, he was elected to serve as first president of the Planning Officers Society, representing chief planning officers in over 400 local authorities in England and Wales.

Ray Georgeson (waste) is executive director of Waste Watch, the national charity promoting waste reduction, reuse and recycling, which he joined in 1992 having been associated with it since its formation in 1987. Previously he has worked in the textile industry, higher education and the community recycling sector. He is currently a member of DTI's advisory group on public confidence in the waste

industry, recently served on DETR's market development group reviewing markets for recyclables, and in 1998 co-authored with DETR their Good Practice Guide on Local Authority Recycling Collections. He is a director of London Waste Action, a former chair of the CREATE charitable trust (creating jobs for long term unemployed people

through re-use of white goods), and a former director of the Community Recycling Network.

Abimbola (Billie) Ibidun (care leavers) is the co-ordinator of A National Voice, an organisation representing and led by young people from local authority care. Her work brings her into day to day contact with young people who are seeking to bring about change in the care system based on their own experience. She has previously worked with young people in a variety of settings and managed a local voluntary organisation.

Bob Layton (housing and council tax benefit administration) is a former senior civil servant. He retired from the Department of Social Security last December having spent most of his career dealing with benefits policy and administration issues. In his last few years at DSS, he had particular responsibility for local authority funding in relation to housing and council tax benefits and their administration. This brought him into frequent contact with a wide range of local authority benefits managers at all levels.

Karen Saunders (community safety) is employed by Slough Estates plc as the manager of the Howard Centre in Welwyn Garden City. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics and began her career in retail management with Miss Selfridge and Next Plc before moving into shopping centre management. At the Howard Centre she has been

involved in the co-ordination of emergency planning and was a member of the editorial committee of the Shopping Centre Bomb Threats video produced last year in collaboration with various bodies including the British Council of Shopping Centres, the Metropolitan Police and the National Terrorist Crime Prevention Unit. The video focused on the partnership approach to emergency planning between businesses,

emergency services and local authorities.

Mike Tomlinson (education) is the director of inspection at OFSTED. He held various teaching posts in schools in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire from 1965-77 before joining Her Majesty's Inspectorate in 1978. His current responsibilities are for the new inspection system, including the framework and its development, monitoring of

inspections, training and assessment of inspectors, failing schools and schools with serious weaknesses, contracting and the impact of inspection in improving schools. In 1997 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

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