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FULL ENGAGEMENT ON BEST GOVERNANCE ARRANGEMENTS

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Miliband hosts debate on structure and leadership...
Miliband hosts debate on structure and leadership

First details of a comprehensive programme of engagement on local government reorganisation were confirmed today, as Minister for Communities David Miliband invited all council leaders in shire England to face to face discussions on the issue.

Ministers have taken no decisions about whether or not in some way to go for reorganisation of the two tier structure, but as part of a wider debate about governance in the 21st century are seeking views on the best arrangements for places. This is an active dialogue covering county and districts, unitaries and neighbourhoods, the role for parishes and ward councillors and the nature of leadership within any new unitary authority.

Writing to all council leaders in shire England, David Miliband flagged plans for a series of eight 'Regional Roundtables', to be hosted by ODPM Ministers. These events will cover each of the eight regions outside London and will provide an opportunity for Ministers and local authority leaders to fully engage in debate on governance, structure and the change process. Full details of locations and dates will be confirmed shortly.

In addition to the Roundtable Events, Mr Miliband will host a further five events across county council areas. It is envisaged that these will act as a wider dialogue on the issue of reorganisation, with a cross section of local stakeholders, as well as local authority leaders, all contributing to the debate. The first of these roundtable events will take place on 7 February in Shrewsbury, relating to Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire. The remaining four locations and dates will be confirmed shortly.

Minister for Communities David Miliband said:

'Government is determined to create a strong and sustainable role for local government with self confident councils that lead and empower their communities and work with others to deliver high quality public services.

We are now moving towards the publication of a White Paper in summer 2006. This will deliver a clear vision for the long term future of local government, including the crucial issue of structure. The series of events I am announcing today offers a genuine opportunity for debate and we look forward to hearing all views on this issue.'

Note

Participants at the five County Dialogues will include representatives from:

* Council Chief Executives

* Council Group Leaders (ruling and opposition)

* Significant Public Sector partners

* Business Community

* Public - Councils' User Groups

* Voluntary and Community Sector

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