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STUDY CENTRE PLANS TO MEET THE CHALLENGE OF COUNCILLOR DEVELOPMENT

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Programmes to challenge and develop councillors' performance are being devised by the Institute of Local Government...
Programmes to challenge and develop councillors' performance are being devised by the Institute of Local Government

Studies.

The first councillor development programme was created five months ago following an approach from Barnsley MBC, which was keen to strengthen its councillors' skills and capacity.

More recently, the institute has been drafted in to help Walsall MBC's councillors shape up, following its critical corporate governance report (LGC, 15 November).

The programmes being developed vary from comprehensive courses that offer accreditation for post-graduate and master degree programmes to short intensive tailor-made seminars, such as those required by Walsall.

Michael Hughes, head of INLOGOV, said around half a dozen county councils had expressed an interest in the programmes. He anticipated the comprehensive performance assessment would have an impact on councils' need to focus on the capacity of their councillors, especially in their overview and scrutiny roles.

He said: 'Some councils are starting to think more seriously about councillor development, but one of the problems we do find is some councillors' reluctance to change the current status quo.'

He added: 'When talking to councils about councillor development they will talk about not having enough time and resources to make the commitment. But you wouldn't go to your doctors and ask 'what can you do for me in 10 minutes?''

While INLOGOV's programmes are expected to expand in the coming months, Mr Hughes said the area of councillor development needed greater expansion and is being looked into by the ODPM and the Audit Commission.

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