Headlines: October 31st, 2006



Local authorities are being invited to join a new learning network on the role of the ward councillor at a time when the neighbourhoods agenda is evolving. The Local Government Information Unit is looking for 15 authorities that will share and develop innovative practice in a project sponsored by the IDeA and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The network’s aims include providing real time learning on the neighbourhoods agenda; giving practical evidence to help the DCLG develop its guidance on implementing that agenda; developing understanding of the ward councillor’s community leadership role and developing clear guidance on supporting and evaluating the ward councillor’s role.

The lead authorities will share their learning on an ongoing basis through the IDeA and LGiU websites and will work with the Department throughout the project. The knowledge and experience those councils gain through the network will then be showcased at a national conference planned for 2008.

Ines Newman, the LGIU’s Head of Policy said: “This is an exciting opportunity for leading authorities to be involved in a high profile network that will inform and shape the new neighbourhoods agenda.”

In its response to last week’s Local Government White Paper the LGIU said it was disappointed that there was no real incentive to deliver on some of the exciting neighbourhood arrangements and no additional funding for community engagement but it welcomed proposals to promote more diverse and representative councillors. “In particular, we look forward to the independent review of the incentives and barriers to serving on councils. Further, we welcome plans for capacity building and support for local councillors to take on their role as democratic champions,” said the LGIU chair, David Wilcox.

Authorities wanting to join the new project will be selected for inclusion on the basis of their ability to benefit from and bring value to the network.