Headlines: January 8th, 2002

A peer review system which allows people in local government the chance to help each other improve is to be rolled out across Europe.The home authorities involved are Newcastle, Nottingham and Birmingham city councils, which will be working with Den Haag, Leipzig, Malmo, Venice and Vienna.

The peer review principles found in the Local Government Improvement Programme (LGIP) have been very successful across the UK – with over 100 peer reviews clocked up since the programme was launched two years ago.

Now the EU has funded a three year project to use peer review to look at the way councils across the continent handle environmental issues like climate change, air pollution, transport, waste, energy, soil erosion and contamination, water quality and bio-diversity.

Each city will develop its own action plan, followed by a peer review 20 months later, providing valuable lessons on the effectiveness of differing answers to the problems.

There are three technical partners to the scheme – the Government-funded Improvement and Development Agency (IdeA), Eurocities and the University of West England. The IDeA will be responsible for designing the methodology, training the peers and assessing the effectiveness of the process. A benchmark is being produced, based on OECD/LGIP models. Other cities from across Europe are being invited to participate in the programme and to attend workshops, training sessions and meetings.

Allen Creedy, at Newcastle City Council, is welcoming expressions of interest from other cities about shadowing the process and sharing in the learning. His email address is allen.creedy@newcastle.gov.uk