Headlines: October 6th, 2004

Ideas for making improvements to services and to create real benefits for local communities are at the centre of new consultations on themes for future rounds of the Beacon Council Scheme, which recognises local authorities that provide excellent services and that are willing to show others how they do it.This new consultation aims to find the remaining three themes for round seven of the scheme and up to 10 themes for round eight. The process is designed to gather the views of individuals and organisations interested in service provision and to develop themes that will encourage shared best practice and bring about tangible improvements.

The consultation has been launched in the light of continued strong interest in the Beacon Council Scheme. More than 200 applications have been received for Beacon status under round six of the scheme, which is being seen as showing its continuing popularity. When the consultation is complete the independent Advisory Panel on Beacon Councils will put recommendations to Ministers, who will then announce their decision on the themes early next year.

The Advisory Panel is also beginning to assess the round six applications and will draw up a shortlist of authorities. Based on the panel’s advice, ministers will announce the latest round of Beacon Councils in April. Marianne Hood, who heads the Advisory Panel was delighted that the round six themes were stimulating so much interest and added that the consultation would play a key role in building on this success. “By consulting with the people who actually deliver local services, we hope the themes will reflect the issues that people are particularly enthusiastic about and the aspirations that they would like to realise,” she said.