Headlines: April 9th, 2002

The announcement of the themes for Round Four of the Beacon Schemes reveal a more strategic approach to delivery of services and provide a boost for joined up working. The Beacon Council Scheme was established in 1999 to select a number of councils to act as pace setters and centres of excellence. Applications for Round Four will be invited in July 2002. and Councils will be invited to submit applications by October 2002. The successful councils will be announced in April next year. Details of themes for rounds five and six have also been published.Supporting social inclusion through Information and Communication Technologies has been included as a theme to counter the risks of a digital divide. The barriers that inhibit access to new technologies include poor skills, low confidence, unattractive content and cost. The Beacon scheme is looking to identify Local Authorities that are working to close the digital divide and to expand access to and take up of local services online. It is hoped that the successful councils will demonstrate how awareness of the opportunities offered by ICTs can be raised, and how advice and skills support can be made available to local people.

Community cohesion has secured a place because local authorities are in key positions to provide strong leadership for their areas and their communities. A cohesive society is one that shares common values and in which everybody feels that they have a full stake and that they are a full citizen. The criteria for the theme makes it clear that the assessors are looking for demonstrations of a common vision and sense of belonging for all people; a recognition and appreciation of peoples’ different circumstances and backgrounds and effective processes and procedures through which difficulties or problems can be dealt with.

The other themes that make up Round Four are: Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Quality of the Built Environment, Rethinking Construction, Street and Highway Works, Supporting the Rural Economy and Transforming Secondary Education

Details of themes for Rounds Five and Six are at: http://www.local-regions.dtlr.gov.uk/beacon/rd3/index4.htm