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RAYNSFORD REVEALS BEACON THEMES

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Local government minister Nick Raynsford has unveiled 27 themes for three future rounds of the beacon council schem...
Local government minister Nick Raynsford has unveiled 27 themes for three future rounds of the beacon council scheme, including 10 themes for round four, the next to be launched.

He made the announcement as he revealed the 46 councils which have received beacon status in round three of the scheme.

As in previous rounds, the 10 new themes cover a wide spectrum (see box).

Mr Raynsford's announcement included advance notice of the 10 themes for round five and seven for round six of the scheme, the first time several rounds have been announced together, as the scheme moves to a longer-term, rolling programme. These rounds will include themes such as better local public transport, housing renewal and services for older people.

The minister said the themes were selected following advice from the independent advisory panel based on wide-ranging consultation with councils and others.

He also praised the 46 councils which were awarded 52 beacon awards from round three.

'Beacon status is much more than a trophy,' he said. 'Becoming a beacon is just the start - the new beacon councils will now help other councils learn from their experience.'

Shadow local government minister

Malcolm Moss slammed the scheme which he described as 'expensive and time

consuming'.

'Along with best value and comprehensive performance assessments, it represents the extension of ring-fenced funding, bureaucratic inspection and centralisation,' he said.

Camden LBC was one of the winners sharing£1.7m equally to disseminate the schemes, and with a total of six beacons to date, two of which it received in this round, it now has more than any other authority.

Applications for the fourth round will begin in July and end in October. The winners will be announced next April.

Themes for Round Four

--Children and adolescent mental health services

--Community cohesion

--Quality of the built environment

--Removing barriers to work

--Rethinking construction

--Social inclusion through information and communication technologies

--Street and highway works

--Supporting the rural economy

--Tackling homelessness

--Transforming secondary education.

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