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
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
* 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
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.