Headlines: March 1st, 2002

A Government-funded agency has set up a new drive to find the talented and representative councillors who will lead tomorrow’s local authorities.The Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA) says the Fast Track scheme will help recruit a new type of councillor, after another survey has shown councillors to be older, likely to be retired, without childcare responsibilities and rarely from an ethnic minority background.

The scheme will be aimed at councillors under 35 who have the potential to become local political leaders. It will build on the Leadership Academy pioneered by the IDeA for existing council leaders. The Fast Track Scheme will provide opportunities for 40 young councillors in its first year of operation and over 200 others in five years.

The IDeA is in discussion with academic institutions, major private sector and voluntary organisations to put together the new programme.

The agency has recently co-produced the second National Census of Local Councils which shows that councillors are becoming older (average age up from 56 to 57), less likely to be in full time employment, be from an ethnic minority ( 2.5% down from 3.1%) and have child care or caring responsibilities (28% down from 34%).

The Fast Track Scheme will be developed in conjunction with the main political parties and representatives of the independent/non aligned party groups.