Headlines: June 17th, 2004

Consultations on a long-term vision for local government across England have begun with the Government seeking views on how it and local councils – as well as local communities – can work together to achieve their aims. It wants to hear from everyone with an interest in local leadership and service delivery. The Local Government Association has already taken up the invitation and will begin its contribution with a debate next week.The consultation was launched with the publication of a pamphlet that identifies the issues the government would like to see debated. They include developing strong and vibrant community leadership, improving citizen engagement and participation, improving service delivery, developing a new relationship between central, regional and local government and considering patterns of governance and the local government finance system.

The idea is to provide a springboard for discussions about what local government could look like in 10 years’ time and the challenges that will need to be overcome as well as new ways of working to realise the vision. The Government has called for an open debate and views can be emailed to localvision@odpm.gsi.gov.uk   or sent via the website of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The Office will also be hosting and taking part in a range of meetings across England.

The LGA welcomed the consultation process, saying the creation of a long-term vision for local government had always been one of its ambitions. As its first contribution to the discussions the LGA is staging a debate next Monday evening at. Local Government House, in Smith Square, London, where contributors will include the Local Government Minister, Nick Raynsford.

In Scotland meanwhile local authorities have welcomed the commitment by the Scottish Executive to begin a long-awaited review of local government finance. Their representative body – COSLA – has called for its role to be recognised and to be able to play a full part in the review rather than being seen simply as a consultee.