Headlines: July 28th, 2004

A debate on the future of local government has been launched by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister with a document setting out what are seen as the issues that will drive the vision. They are local leadership, citizen engagement and participation, service delivery, the performance framework, and the
relationship between central, regional and local government. During the coming months the government is hoping to build up a shared vision with active participation from local government and other stakeholders.

Launching the debate, John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister said: “Local government has a crucial part to play in creating sustainable communities. It has a unique place at their heart – democratically accountable, understanding local needs and aspirations, and able to bring partners together to improve
services and quality of life. Over the next ten years people’s needs, expectations and lifestyles will change. We need to make sure that local government has the capacity to contribute fully and make a real difference in communities.

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Local Government Association Chairman, pledged that the Association would meet its side of the bargain to renew and refresh the Central Local Partnership and help deliver a 10-year strategy that devolves government. But he warned that the biggest single challenge facing the Deputy
Prime Minister and his department was to ensure that the rest of Whitehall and the Cabinet deliver. He added: “We strongly welcome a strategy which seeks to bring greater autonomy to local councils and look forward to working closely in a constructive relationship to help evolve a new relationship between local and central government.”