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New themes announced for Rounds 6 & 7 of the Beacon Council scheme ...
New themes announced for Rounds 6 & 7 of the Beacon Council scheme

Themes focusing on developing strong, active and healthy communities

for Rounds 6 & 7 of the Beacon Council Scheme were announced today by

local government minister Nick Raynsford.

Setting out the package of future themes, Mr Raynsford reaffirmed

the value of the Beacon Council Scheme and of sharing best practice

in order to achieve excellence in a range of important public


Mr Raynsford said:

'Today's announcement continues the commitment we made in the Local

Government White Paper Strong Local Leadership, Better Public

Services, to develop the Beacon Council Scheme by moving to a

longer-term programme of themes.

The themes announced today were chosen following input from

ministerial colleagues and advice from the Independent Advisory Panel

on Beacon Councils. They are intended to reflect a range of issues

which local people themselves find important, and which will provide

real benefits for local communities. The themes should provide an

opportunity for all authorities to engage in the scheme, regardless

of their size or location.'

Mr Raynsford also announced the appointment of Mohammed Aslam as

a member of the Independent Advisory Panel on Beacon Councils:

'I am also delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Aslam, as his wide range of experience in local government practice

makes him a welcome addition to thepanel.'

Marianne Hood, chair of the Advisory Panel on Beacon Councils, said:

'The panel welcomes the minister's announcement on future Beacon

themes. The package of themes agreed draw on suggestions put forward

by the LGA, authorities and other organisations interested in

excellent local services, in response to the panel's consultation

paper on themes for future rounds published in February 2003. We

believe this wide range of themes will be positively received by all

sectors in lo cal government.

Like Nick Raynsford, I am also very pleased to welcome Dr Aslam onto

the panel'.

The Round 6 themes are:

* Affordable Housing

* Asset Management

* Effective Environmental Health

* Getting Closer to Communities

* Healthy Communities

* Integrated Children's Services

* Promoting Racial Equality

* Supporting Carers

* Supporting New Business

* Sustainable Energy

Seven of the ten Round 7 themes are:

* Culture/sport for hard to reach groups

* Early Intervention (Children at Risk)

* Positive youth engagement (in the community and democratic


* Road Safety

* Service delivery through partnerships

* Valuing People

* Waste and recycling


1. The Beacon Council Scheme was established by the government in

1999 to identify authorities to act as centres of excellence and to

share their learning with others.

2. Round 6 of the Beacon Council Scheme will run from 2004/05 and

Round 7 will run from 2005/06.

3. The Advisory Panel on Beacon Councils, an advisory

Non-Departmental Public Body, provides advice to ministers on the

selection of themes and beacon councils each year. The report of the

Advisory Panel on future themes: The Report of the Advisory Panel on

Beacon Councils: Recommendations to Ministers on Themes for Rounds

Six and Seven is available on the ODPM website:

4. Seven of the ten themes for Round 6 had already been agreed (press

notice 8th April 2002 refers). Ministers accepted the panel's

recommendation of Affordable Housing for one of the remaining three

themes in Round 6.

5. Ministers decided to merge the panel's recommendations of Positive

Engagement of Young People in the Community and Encouraging Young

People in the Democratic Process into a single theme of Positive

Youth Engagement (in the community and democratic process). This has

been placed in Round 7, in order to include a theme on Sustainable

Energy in Rou nd 6 which fulfils a commitment in the Energy White

Paper. Ministers also decided to include Integrated Children's

Services as a theme for Round 6.

6. Ministers accepted the remainder of the panel's recommendations

for Round 7 with the exception of Lifelong Learning and Better Access

to Services (which will be reconsidered when the final themes for

Round 7 are agreed). Ministers have also decided to include Early

Intervention (Children at Risk) and Valuing People as themes for

Round 7. A full description of the themes for Round 6 and 7 is

attached at Annex A.

7. There are three further themes to be selected for Round 7. These

'slots' are kept in reserve to allow the flexibility in the future to

reflect emerging priorities.

8. Dr Aslam has been appointed to the advisory panel

following the resignation of Mel Usher. Biographical notes on Dr

Aslam, who will serve on the Advisory Panel until September 2006, are

at Annex B.


Round Six

Asset Management

Management of capital assets is an important responsibility for

councils, and increasingly so with the introduction of the single

capital pot. It was defined in the DETR Good Practice Guidelines

(published in 2000) as 'optimising the utilisation of assets in terms

of service benefits and financial return'. Local authorities hold

land and property assets as a support to the provision of services.

The aims of a local authority practising good asset management would

be make full use of these buildings, minimising the opportunity cost

of tying up financial resources in the land or property. This could

be achieved through using the asset for a wide range of activities or

constantly reviewing use to ensure the asset is meeting the changing

demands of communities. There are also exceptional properties that

are held for financial gain rather than to assist service delivery

that would need to be considered in this Beacon theme.

Effective Environmental Health

Long-standing responsibilities of local authorities have included the

control on nuisances (such as noise and waste), enforcement of

building regulations and street cleaning. These 'liveability' issues

are among the most important in the eyes of local people. A Beacon

theme will enable all local authorities to raise their performance.

Getting Closer to Communities

An essential feature of the local government modernisation agenda is

the need for local authorities to get closer to local communities.

This theme will focus on best practice in consultation, in area-based

decision-making and in the integrated delivery of local services.

Healthy Communities

Local authorities are in a key position to influence the wider

determinants of ill health and the causes of health inequalities.

There are many examples of community development projects with a

proven track record of tackling health inequalities. In addition,

there is strong evidence that involving local communities (as a key

partner) in planning ensures that resulting services and

interventions are more accessible and appropriate for the communities

that they are intended for. Therefore, they are better used by the

worst off communities and this contributes to health improvement and

a reduction in health inequalities at a neighbourhood level.

Supporting Carers

Carers play a vital role in looking after those who are sick,

disabled, vulnerable or frail. The Government acknowledges carers'

role and supports them in their caring role. Local authorities with

social care responsibilities have the duty of ensuring that

Government policies are achieved at the local level. The Carers and

Disabled Children Act came into force in April 2001. The Act gives

councils more power to support carers by providing services to carers

directly, direct payments for carers, the right to a carers

assessment in their own right and development of short term break

voucher schemes. The Carers Grant is ring-fenced for provision of

breaks. Authorities are required to consult and involve carers to

ensure that the variety of breaks provided meets the needs of local

people. For instance support for carers in employment, provision of

services for black and minority ethnic carers and information

provided by councils for carers. Other measurable outcomes are

emotional support, training and support to care. Ensuring that the

Government's desired outcome in providing care for carers would

require authorities to have stronger dialogue with users and with

Primary Care Trusts.

Supporting New Business

Local authorities have a long-standing interest in fostering the

growth of small businesses, including start-ups. Working both direct

and through Business Links and other local partners, including local

enterprise agencies, they can provide small businesses with essential

advice and assistance, such as requirements on local regulations and

bye-laws and the provision of managed workspace. Such support,

together with their wider economic development activities, enable

local authorities to make a real contribution to the development and

growth of small businesses, whichare a vital part of a sustainable

and vibrant local economy.

Promoting Racial Equality

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report and the requirements of Best

Value highlighted the need for public authorities to tackle racism

and unlawful discrimination and promote racial equality, to ensure

that they are representative of the communities they serve and serve

those communities better. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

places a positive duty on public authorities actively to promote

racial equality. This requires them to ensure unlawful

discrimination is avoided before it occurs and to promote equality of

opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial


This theme is not restricted to authorities with large ethnic

minority communities; the need to tackle racism effectively is as

great where ethnic minority communities are small.

Integrated Children's Services

Currently the responsibility for the delivery of children's services

is spread over a number of different agencies such as education,

health and social services. This can lead to children coming into

contact with several different agencies but there being little

effective co-ordination of service delivery. In order to address this

issue The Children's Green Paper: Every Child Matters was published

on the 8 September and the central theme is the integration of

childrens services.

The Government's vision is the integration of key services in each

local authority in a single child focused organisation. What is

needed are examples of cooperation and coordination between the

different agencies involved in the delivery of children's services

that can be used to demonstrate good practice.

Affordable Housing

Increasing the supply of affordable housing in areas where demand is

high is a key priority. 'Sustainable communities: building for the

future' (February 2003) set out a major programmes of action to

tackle imbalances between the supply of and demand for housing and

improve the condition of the existing housing stock.

A number of authorities are facing significant shortages of

affordable housing and improving the effectiveness with which this is

addressed is a key element of the action programme. This requires a

strategic approach, with effective integration of housing and

planning responsibilities, and action on number of fronts, including:

- management of/delivery through the planning system;

- partnerships with Housing Associations;

- better use of existing stock;

- preventative action on homelessness; and

- promotion of moves to lower demand areas

In this theme, we will be looking for authorities that can

demonstrate a range of innovative and effective approaches to

tackling shortages of affordable housing based on a sound analysis of

local housing markets and housing need.

Sustainable Energy

The Government published its Energy Which Paper, 'Our Energy Future -

Creating a Low Carbon Future' in February 2003. This made a

commitment to develop a Beacon Councils theme on 'sustainable


The focus of the sustainable energy theme will be on energy-related

initiatives led by local authorities that are primarily related to

reducing emissions of CO2. These initiatives would include those

related to achieving reductions in energy demand (e.g. reducing the

use of energy locally) and supply (e.g. promotion of low or

zero-carbon forms of generation and new forms of distribution that

accompany them).

We will in particular be seeking examples of where local authorities

can show they have thought strategically about how energy policy

issues (and particular local initiatives) impact on the wider local

economy and community.

Round 7

Waste and recycling

Waste is one of the major environmental challenges facing England

today, and improving our performance on managing waste is a crucial

part of Government's approach to sustainable development. Local

authorities, in partnership with each other, community groups,

agencies and others in the public and private sectors play a crucial

role in providing an effective waste collection and disposal service

for local residents as well as for local environment quality services

such as street cleansing. Local authorities are also key in driving

up performance to meet local and national sustainable waste

management goals to reduce waste and to maximise re-use, recycling,

composting and recovery.

Service delivery through partnerships

A Strategic Service Partnership is a long-term partnership between

organisations that work collaboratively to achieve the au thority's

strategic aims for delivering services. The key words are strategic

and delivering services - these are the defining features of SSPs. A

SSP is distinguished from a Local Strategic Partnership by the fact

that it is designed to deliver services - rather than plan,

co-ordinate or monitor the activities of the public sector agencies

in the community

Road Safety

Local authorities are key partners in delivering the Government's

Road Safety objectives. The great bulk of casualties arise from

accidents occurring on locally managed roads. In order to be

effective in reducing the burden that road accidents place on local

communities, the local authority needs to have a true understanding

of their particular casualty situation and then devise solutions to


Culture / sport for hard to reach groups

Local Authorities are key players in the delivery of DCMS strategic

objectives. A key objective, which is also one of our PSA targets, is

to increase significantly the take up of cultural and sporting

opportunities by new users from priority groups. The inclusion of

culture/sport for hard to reach groups as a Beacon theme in this

round is therefore very welcome as it will help demonstrate, in

partnership with local authorities, how culture and sport can

transform people's lives, bring communities together and develop a

shared sense of local identity.

Positive youth engagement (in the community and democratic process)

Local authorities can provide many opportunities for young people to

engage in activities which can enhance the well-being of their

localities. From providing constructive community involvement

opportunities as part of the schools' citizenship education

programme, facilitating young people to volunteer or act as mentors

to help others in their communities, to enabling them to form youth

groups or councils to develop their own agendas, and encouraging them

to take part in the decisio n-making processes of public bodies

through feeding into consultative processes as well as voting, local

authorities can be a key community leader in bringing about positive

youth engagement.

Early Intervention (Children at Risk)

Early identification and intervention in cases of children at risk,

whether physically or those with other problems such as special

educational needs, is vital for a favourable outcome. The Children's

Green Paper: Every Child Matters identifies the sharing of

information; common assessment frameworks; identifying lead

professionals; setting up multidisciplinary teams; and co-locating

services in and around schools as the keys to the identification,

tracking and early intervention in cases of children at risk.

Innovative solutions to these issues and examples of good practice by

Local authorities are needed to feed into the emerging Children's

Green Paper Agenda.

Valuing People

The White Paper Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning

Disability for the 21st Century was published in March 2001. It is

the first White Paper on the subject for thirty years and is based on

the four key principles of rights, independence, choice, and

inclusion. Valuing People is a cross-Government initiative, covering

a wide range of issues, from health to housing, social services to

transport, education to employment and leisure. It sets out a

challenging five year programme of action designed to improve the

lives of people with learning disabilities, their families and



Biogrgaphical Note on Dr Mohammed Aslam

Dr Mohammed Aslam is currently the chief executive of Worcestershire

Racial Equality Council. He has worked in local government, the

voluntary sector and higher education. He was a county councillor

for nine years, during which time he was vice chair of the economic

development committee and chair of the Youth Advisory sub committee.

He has over 25 years exper ience working with local voluntary groups

and community organisations. Dr Aslam has spent a considerable

number of years working in local government where he led projects on

community engagement and voluntary sector participation in the work

of public authorities. Dr Aslam is also a fellow of the Royal

Society of Arts.

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