Headlines: November 5th, 1997

Cutting bureaucracy and streamlining service delivery were key themes discussed by Ministers and council leaders at a meeting of the Central – Local Partnership. They agreed on plans to work together to make services much more convenient and accessible – so that, for example, people can deal with Government in one place rather than a succession of offices all over town.Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: “There are already areas where central and local government are working together to improve their services for the citizen and businesses, for example Access Business. We want to build on this type of work, and other similar initiatives by the Local Government Association. People need easy access. They want to know what their government is up to. We have agreed today how we go forward on both fronts.

Local Government Association leader Sir Jeremy Beecham said: “The meeting has helped cement the new relationship between central and local government. We are looking at how local authorities and the government can combine and co-ordinate their energies to deliver the best possible services. Local government and central government share the same objective – better government.”

The Partnership was set up to address major issues involving local government, particularly those which cross departmental boundaries and require a Government-wide approach. Cabinet Ministers and other key ministers from across Whitehall meet council leaders at least twice yearly, under the chairmanship of John Prescott. The meetings replace the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance, and the Housing Consultative Council, which many believed had become ineffective.