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An open debate on what local government should look like in ten ...
An open debate on what local government should look like in ten

years' time began in earnest today. Key themes are local leadership,

citizen engagement and participation, service delivery and the

performance framework, and the relationship between central, regional

and local government.

Over the coming months the government is hoping to build up a shared

vision with active participation from local government and other

stakeholders. Two papers are published today - one setting out the

main themes of the debate and the other, on local area agreements, is

the first in a series of in-depth papers on specific issues.

Launching the debate, John Prescott, the deputy prime minister said:

'Local government has a crucial part to play in creating sustainable

communities. It has a unique place at their heart - democratically

accountable, understanding local needs and aspirations, and able to

bring partners together to improve services and quality of life. Over

the next ten years people's needs, expectations and lifestyles will

change. We need to make sure that local government has the capacity

to contribute fully and make a real difference in communities.

'What is certain is that there will be challenges ahead for both

central and local government - and our many partners - but there is a

great deal to build on. For example, local strategic partnerships and

the renaissance of our core cities have shown what can be achieved by

taking new approaches and working in new ways.

'We are not starting with all the answers but with the issues that

need to be discussed. Some of those issues are not easy to resolve

and lead to some difficult choices. But now is the right time to

talk about them so we can map out a way forward together that will

deliver services people value and the places they want to live in. I

hope all stakeholders will take this opportunity to join in the

debate and come forward with ideas.'

Education secretary Charles Clarke said:

'The development of a ten-year vision gives us a unique opportunity

to clarify and support the leadership role of local government in

securing high quality services for their community. The debate will

also look at the respective roles and responsibilities of central,

regional and local government - and of frontline service deliverers.

'In education, people expect national standards and frontline

delivery is key. But local authorities have a vital part to play in

championing the interests of parents and pupils, providing leadership

and vision to link education with other priorities for children and

young people in their area, and in the strategic co-ordination of

many educational activities.'

The debate will link into other programmes for change in local

government, including the balance of funding. The next step for the

debate is a series of meetings and events with other government

departments, councils and many others who have an interest throughout

the country. A strategy will then be published next year setting out

the shared vision for the future of local government.


1 The two papers published today are 'The future of local government:

Developing a 10 year vision' on the key themes and 'Local Area

Agreements: a prospectus'. Both documents can

be found on the ODPM website.

2 To inform the debate, the Local and Regional Government Research

Unit (LRGRU) at ODPM has published four research reports today:

* A Summary of Research Evidence on New Council Constitutions in

Local Government

* Operating the New Council Constitutions in English Local

Authorities: A Process Evaluation (Second Annual report)

* How are Mayors Measuring Up?

* The Implementation of New Council Constitutions in Alternative

Arrangement Authorities.

These have been prepared by a research team based at the University

of Manchester's Institute for Political and Economic Governance

(IPEG). The team was commissioned by ODPM to undertake a five year

evaluation of changes to local government arising from the Local

Government Act 2000. The evaluation is looking at the working of new

council constitutions and the integral new ethical frameworks.

Together with a summary of the research evidence, these reports cover

the processes of implementation which have been adopted to manage new

council constitutions, and early findings in relation to mayoral

models and alternative arrangements (such as streamlined committee


All these documents are available on the ODPM website at

Papers to be published in the autumn will cover political leadership,

hung and balanced councils, and the views of stakeholders, officers

and councillors in new council.

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