Headlines: October 19th, 1998

New guidance from the Government aims to help councils reach out to their communities and implement new ways of involving the public in decision taking.Against a background of low-turn out at council elections, the Government has challenged local government to be more interesting and more accountable. Local Government Minister Hilary Armstrong says the new Guidance on Enhancing Public Participation in Local Government is about giving local councils the toolkit to achieve these challenges.

She said: “Participation needs to be an ongoing process that is fully integrated with the core activities of councils – not just an add on.”

The Minister challenged councils to make use of the guidance in three broad areas:

To innovate – to explore new ways of engaging with communities more effectively eg by citizen panels or interactive web-sites.

To be inclusive – research has shown that there are sections of the community, such as young people and ethnic minorities, which are particularly hard to reach. Everyone has a right for their voice to be heard and this guidance gives some ideas on how this might be achieved.

To act now – don’t wait for legislation and don’t be left behind.

The Guidance costs ten pounds and is available from Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Publications Sales Centre, Unit 8, Goldthorpe Industrial Estate, Goldthorpe, Rotherham, S63 9BL.

For a copy of the guidance summary contact David Purdy, Local Government Research Unit, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU.