Archives for February 23rd, 2006

REFORMS IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT: A COMPARATIVE FRAMEWORK

Abstracts, PublicNet: 23 February, 2006

By Rikke Berg and Nirmala RaoLocal governments throughout the west are undergoing a transformation of their leadership styles and structures. Some countries have abandoned traditional systems of collective or committee based decision-making in favour of Cabinet models or, more radically, a directly-elected executive mayor, while others have strengthened existing mayoral systems. There are a few exceptions to this trend. Based on original research in eleven countries the book assesses these changes in terms of their implications for political accountability, the role of lay politicians, political recruitment, the professionalization of leadership, and relations with the bureaucracy.

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NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICING GETS ITS CHAMPIONS

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 February, 2006

All police forces have now set up command units to champion and implement neighbourhood policing across the country. The make up of neighbourhoods will vary, but in general they will cover about two councils wards. Each neighbourhood will have a dedicated neighbourhood policing team and the aim is for every resident to know the name of their local officer, see them on the street and be able to contact them. About half the country will have teams in place by the end of 2007 and the remainder by 2008.This approach to community policing has been trialled in a number of locations and the pilots sought to involve local communities in identifying and tackling priority crime and disorder. The evaluation shows that the programme has a positive impact on crime, perceptions of crime and anti-social behaviour. In addition, feelings of safety and confidence in the police have improved. It is claimed that informal mechanisms supporting a neighbourhood team play a greater role than formal mechanisms based on traditional, reactive, enforcement-based policing.

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DEAL FOR DEVOLUTION OPENS UP SKILLS GAP IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 23 February, 2006

The Deal for Devolution will bring a radical shift from top down to bottom up performance measurement with citizen power challenging service providers who may be in the public, voluntary or private sectors. The proposed re-shaping of local government with a double devolution of power from Whitehall to the Town Hall, and from the Townhall to local communities, will result in the scrapping of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment regime. National standards, reflecting the Government’s priorities will remain, but inspection by the Audit Commission is likely to be restricted to specific situations. Public sector training experts say that this change opens up a skills gap in the local organizations delivering services.Local councils and other service providers will need to consider how the current performance framework can be re-balanced so that they can better respond to bottom up pressures to improve the quality. Although the latest statistics show that 70 per cent of councils are improving, critics argue that nearly half of all councils only provided minimal levels of value for money or below. With the star rating and tightened performance criteria introduced for this year, more councils are likely to fall into the under performance zone.

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