In a speech addressing a best value conference on 24th February in Mid Wales organised by Syniad, the Welsh Improvement, Development and Employment organisation, Peter Law AM, assembly secretary for local government, in his first major engagement since becoming solely responsible for local government within the assembly announced:
'I will be proposing the necessary assembly legislation to change the statutory date for the publication of Best Value Performance Plans from 31 March to 30 June'.
This decision has been the result of effective dialogue between the assembly and the Welsh Local Government Association, who argued that to be audited on inaccurate data up to the end of the financial year, published in a plan on the last day of that year was inappropriate. The new date now allows accurate data to be added to the draft plans prepared for the 31st March.
'These proposals have been very favourably received by Welsh local authorities. They will allow for better quality performance information with an opportunity for public scrutiny and comment in advance of decisions. The WLGA is appreciative of the contributions of the committee and the assembly secretary in finding a distinctive solution which meets a range of objectives'.
In his speech, Peter Law announced further national assembly proposals regarding local government in Wales, including:
- the assembly's request to the government to amend the Local Government Bill to create a 'duty' rather than a 'power' for Welsh local authorities to prepare community plans for their areas;
- the assembly proposes to confer the new functions and powers of the standards board and ethical standards officers upon the existing Welsh local government ombudsman;
- the introduction of the beacon scheme in Wales will be delayed for one year.