Book News: May 11th, 2005

This report from the New Local Government Network, an independent think tank, calls for a new relationship between central and local government to put the notion of “Community Leadership” at the heart of how councils operate. It recognises the difficult relationship between central and local government and addresses the major cultural change now necessary. Although central government maintains a degree of distrust, councils need to respond to the anxiety and work at the relationship by demonstrating their capacity to deliver Community Leadership. This includes engaging local communities, delivering efficient, responsive services and creating thriving communities.The report argues that local government should not just be delivering ‘for’ central government but ‘with’ it. Whitehall needs to recognise the crucial role that councils have in the social, economic and environmental well-being of an area, and display greater trust in their ability and capacity by giving them the freedom and tools to play this role. A number of immediate ways in which councils can help forge a new central-local relationship are set out. They include contributing to a policy paper to the ODPM’s current strategy plans that includes a harder edged version of Community Leadership and to the Audit Commission’s CPA 2005 consultation. They should also continue to test the limits and existing powers and work through the vehicles available to them, for example Local Area Agreements, Local Public Service Agreements, Local Strategic Partnerships, the Power of Well-Being and Public Service Boards.

Making Community Leadership Real is published by NLGN and available free http://www.nlgn.org.uk/