Archives for June 12th, 2002

BEST VALUE AND THE CONTROL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Abstracts, PublicNet: 12 June, 2002

By Amanda Balland Jane BroadbentThis article offers some understanding of the early experience of implementing Best Value in the local authority sector. Implementation is dependent on how local government understands the concept; what local government is able to deliver; and what central government is prepared to accept. For the case study authority described in this article, Best Value is understood to depend on three deliverable ‘cornerstones’, embedded in a context that emphasises accountability, seeks to develop ‘learning’ and pursues change in organizational culture, emphasising the tenets of ‘business excellence’. The authors conclude that Best Value represents an unusual cocktail of top-down concept and bottom-up realization, providing a new twist in the control of the local government sector.

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CALL CENTRE WARNING

Headlines, PublicNet: 12 June, 2002

Working conditions and management practices in call centres have been put under the spotlight following a survey by UNISON. The union found that four in five workers suffered headaches while more than 60% experienced pains in their hands, wrists and back. One third found their work station uncomfortable and only a quarter felt their software systems were easy to use and efficient. Background noise made 85% of staff feel uncomfortable.The survey sampled the views of people working in call centers throughout Scotland, many of whom are employed by local authorities. Call centres are a growing source of employment north of the border with 46,000 working at more than 200 sites.

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COUNCILS FAILING TO ENGAGE COMMUNITIES ONLINE

Headlines, PublicNet: 12 June, 2002

Councils are not exploiting modern technology to engage and consult with communities. Although 83 per cent of local authorities use the Internet to invite feedback from citizens on services, take up is poor and e-participation is not communicated effectively to communities. Central government interest in e-participation is limited to expanding the voting population and there is little concern for what happens between elections. These are the main findings from ‘e-participation in local government’ published by the Institute of Public Policy Research. The report is based on a survey carried out by the Institute and supported by the Local Government Association.The survey revealed that little is being done to bridge the digital divide. The majority of councils have no access strategies for the disabled, members of minority ethnic communities, people on low incomes, people with literacy and numeracy difficulties or for the elderly. Only 7 per cent of councils provided training for their elected members in the use of the Internet to engage their electorate.

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