Archives for November 2005

COUNCIL COMMUNICATORS OFFERED HELP TO SPREAD NEWS OF SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 November, 2005

Local authority communications staff are being offered more help in persuading local people about the improvements that councils have made to services. The Audit Commission has teamed up with the IDeA to develop a new training module for press officers and others. The Connecting with Communities module is being launched to share advice and good practice on spreading information about the new Comprehensive Performance Assessment of local councilsThe Commission says it has taken a fresh look at CPA. It is moving towards a star-based rating system for councils and has branded its revised approach as ‘The Hard Test’. The Commission believes this more stringent test will present council communicators with a tougher challenge to persuade local people of improvements councils have made.

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HEADS WARN OF TIDE OF ANGER OVER PARENT COUNCIL PLANS

Headlines, PublicNet: 30 November, 2005

Head teachers say there is a rising tide of anger among school leaders over plans to set up parent councils and they are warning that the measure, set out in the White Paper, “Higher Standards, Better Schools for All – More Choice for Parents and Pupils”, could play a part in lowering educational standards.The Council of the National Association of Head Teachers says it is convinced that the vast majority of parents are far more interested in supporting their child at school than being encouraged to form what it has dubbed ‘lynch mobs’.

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REAL LEADERSHIP

Book News, PublicNet: 29 November, 2005

By Dean WilliamsMuch of what passes for “good leadership” today only appears effective because people are blindly following their leaders. But when organizations face tough challenges, leaders often offer false solutions and sidestep harsh realities, distracting the people from the real work of progress. “Real Leadership” mobilizes people to face reality and address the organization or community’s most pressing challenge. It is this primary threat or opportunity that must be confronted for success to unfold. Williams shows how real leaders help people shift their values, habits, practices, and priorities to accommodate changing conditions and new demands.

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IT INITIATIVE COULD BE FIRST STEP TO SHARED SUPPORT SERVICES IN SCOTLAND

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 November, 2005

The Scottish Executive has joined forces with private enterprise to offer shared ICT services to all Scotland’s public agencies. The initiative – Scots Connect – is being seen as a possible first step in sharing support that could lead to big savings and change the running of the Scottish public sector.Scots Connect brings together the Executive and private sector partners Objective and LogicaCMG. They have developed ICT systems they believe are robust, reliable and suited to the needs of the public sector. The Executive’s Permanent Secretary John Elvidge said they now wanted public sector agencies to consider if the systems met their needs. By adopting them, he said, agencies could avoid costly work on developing their own ICT solutions.

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VIEWS SOUGHT ON FUTURE OF LOCAL SERVICES INSPECTION SYSTEM

Headlines, PublicNet: 29 November, 2005

A consultation paper has been launched to gather opinions on the future of inspection for local services. It is designed to start a debate on the role of local services inspection, including the Audit Commission, beyond 2008, when a number of existing programmes come to an end.The consultation was announced by Local Government Minister Phil Woolas and it will build on the document “Securing better outcomes: developing a new performance framework”, which was published last March. The Government wants to see a new performance framework that drives the delivery of services and that better balances national pressures and priorities with stronger local accountability and partnership delivery. It believes this is an essential part of progress towards clearer lines of accountability, more power for local people and less bureaucracy.

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THE CHALLENGE OF POLICE REFORM IN ENGLAND AND WALES

Abstracts, PublicNet: 28 November, 2005

By Barry LovedayAs a recent Home Office White Paper ‘Building Communities, Beating Crime’ demonstrates, radical change now confronts the police service. Policing responsibilities and police budgets are being devolved to Basic Command Units. There will be radical internal changes in the make up and role of police and civilian staff in the service.

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TEAM SAYS NEW DEAL COMMUNITIES ARE MODELS FOR RENEWAL

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 November, 2005

An independent report has found that partnerships set up as part of the New Deal for Communities programme are providing models for neighbourhood renewal. The report says the programme is “proving effective” in engaging residents and changing attitudes towards local communities.The report is from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University, led by Professor Paul Lawless. It provides a national evaluation of the New Deal for Communities from 2001 to 2005. It concludes that the NDC programme has made progress through a wide range of projects, from major housing refurbishment initiatives to youth inclusion schemes and community crime teams.

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TACKLING DRUG DEALING ‘REQUIRES UNDERSTANDING OF COMMUNITIES

Headlines, PublicNet: 28 November, 2005

Police and anti-drugs campaigners have been warned against believing the stereotypical view of drug-dealing areas as being unpopular and socially-divided. Unique research carried out for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows drug dealers also thrive in neighbourhoods with a strong sense of community and, in some cases, operate as established ‘family’ businesses.A team from King’s College London conducted the largest British study to date of the relationship between illegal drug markets and communities. The research, published today, includes interviews with 68 dealers, 800 residents and more than 120 professionals from the police and other local agencies. The research focuses on four contrasting drug-dealing neighbourhoods in England. It finds widespread concern among local people who are particularly anxious about intimidation, violence and harm to the reputation of their area.

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GOOGLEISATION OF NEIGHBOURHOODS THREATENS THE VULNERABLE

Features, PublicNet: 25 November, 2005

By Roger Burrows, Nick Ellison and Brian Woods. Not so long ago, images and perceptions of neighbourhoods and communities were largely generated from a range of primarily local sources. Local residents and those living nearby would hold key information about the history and folklore of particular places. Today, Internet-based neighbourhood information systems are growing rapidly allowing ever more detailed information to become publicly available. They have the potential to change fundamentally or to solidify the image of individual neighbourhoods by contributing to restructuring and ‘social sorting’. The authors warn of the dangers of this development, particularly for the vulnerable.

SCOTTISH COUNCILS WARN THEY ARE LOSING PATIENCE AS CUTS LOOM

Headlines, PublicNet: 25 November, 2005

Local authorities in Scotland are warning that they are losing patience after what they have called ‘an extremely tight settlement’ from the Scottish Executive. Councils are warning that they are now looking at large-scale cuts in services.Pat Watters, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said the level of the settlement attacked the principles of protecting the services authorities delivered to their communities and keeping council tax levels as low as possible, which were uppermost in councils’ decision making process. Councillor Watters said the Executive had not delivered anything new for Scottish local government and councils were left with no other choice than to look at cuts in frontline services.

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