Headlines: May 3rd, 2000

An in-depth study of the current revolution in council management has shown that the new structures being set up are not being linked to the change that they are supposed to bring about.The old arrangement of committees and sub-committees for decision-making is being overhauled, with many councils choosing to select a handful of councillors to make decisions in smaller, closed ‘cabinet’ style meetings.

The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), which has been set up to aid modernisation of local government, has produced a joint study with the DETR of six pioneering authorities which have set up these new cabinets ahead of the rest.

‘New forms of political management arrangements’ evaluates these developments through case study. The major finding is that authorities cannot simply put the new structure in place and hope that the other modernisation demands that inspired them – to improve local government services, deliver Best Value, community leadership and democratic renewal – will naturally follow.

Other key findings of the report include the potential for cross-cutting portfolios to strengthen corporate capacity, and evidence that councils might be dispatching business more efficiently but with a lack of transparency and openness.

An Executive Summary is available for download (PDF 236Kb) from the IDea website at: www.idea.gov.uk