Headlines: February 6th, 2001

Six local councils have been selected as the first to pilot new public service agreements – a package of financial incentives and easing of red tape in exchange for promises to meet new performance targets.The councils will have to deliver measurable improvements in services over the next three years.

The councils are Blackburn with Darwen, Kent, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, Tameside and Warwickshire.

These councils have been set about twelve performance targets covering a range of services that have a direct impact on their communities. Councils will be given up to ?1m in advance for work to help them meet their targets and if successful, they will receive a further financial bonus.

Among the targets are to reduce road accident casualties, increase educational achievement among children with special educational needs, and to encourage more people to recycle their household waste.

The PSAs flow from the 2000 Spending Review and are expected to be followed by a further tranche of 14 more authorities.