Headlines: September 16th, 1999

In a move to quicken the pace of change in town halls and get local
councils more closely in line with the Government’s modernisation
programme, Housing Minister Hillary Armstrong has set up a high powered
‘change catalyst’ team. Based in the Department of Environment Transport
and Regions headquarters in London they will travel the country promoting
the Government’s agenda for change set out in ‘Modernising Local Government
in Touch with the People’ published in July 1998 and ‘Modernising
government’ published in March 1999. They will also feed back views and
experiences directly to ministers and to senior officials across Whitehall.

The eight strong team are all experienced in local government and six
members are on secondment from senior posts. They will take local
government expertise into the heart of the Whitehall machine, which has
been a long term weakness. Although some civil servants have local
government experience, it is alleged that most gained it in European
countries rather than in the UK.

The team will collaborate with the Local Government Association and the
Improvement and Development Agency. The role of the Agency in promoting the
local government improvement programme appears to overlap with the team’s
remit and it is unclear how potential difficulties of duplication and
second guessing will be overcome.