Headlines: January 12th, 2001

A survey of 200 senior policy staff in local government indicates many authorities have made little progress on deciding on their new political management structures.While English councils are required to submit their proposals on new structures by June 2001, the independent survey, funded and conducted by ORC International’s public sector division, found that 55% of authorities have yet to make a decision on the shape of their new political management structures.

This shows that the bulk of councils could be lagging behind those pioneering authorities that scrapped their system of endless committee and sub-committee cycles and have now been piloting new structures for nearly two years.

Those officers surveyed who could identify a model their authority might go for said it was likely to be a cabinet style of political management, with a leader elected by the council. There appears to be very little support inside the sector for the option of a directly elected mayor.

While councils are required, under DETR Guidance, to consult local citizens and stakeholders extensively about proposals for new political management structures, 69% of those interviewed in the survey said that this consultation was yet to be undertaken.

Attitudes among senior policy staff to the required changes in political management are mixed. The survey respondents were split on whether the new arrangements would renew public interest in local democracy.