Headlines: May 23rd, 2007



A new panel has been set up to champion the issues that are the heart of local communities. The policy panel, which brings together leading public sector figures and academics, is being facilitated by the Local Government Information Unit. The new group aims to develop new thinking and direction to help local government to cope with future challenges in a changing political and social context.

It is being chaired by Sir Brian Briscoe, the former chief executive of the Local Government Association. Other members will include Natural England chair Sir Martin Doughty, Dr Ita O’Donovan, chief executive of the London Borough of Haringey and Martin Willis, the director of the Institute of Local Government Studies as well as three MPs, the Liberal Democrat David Howarth, Conservative Philip Dunne and Shahid Malik, the Labour member for Dewsbury. Panel members from the LGIU include the Institute’s chief executive Tim Thorogood and chair Dave Wilcox.

Sir Brian Briscoe said local government had an opportunity to build stronger cross-party consensus on the local shaping of places and services. He was looking forward, he said, to working with the panel to develop a common approach to localism with politicians of all parties, and collaborating with other local government organisations to maximise the group’s impact at national level.

The panel has been set up as a response to the need for local government to be more proactive and to take a longer-term perspective to help establish a cross-party consensus on localism. Among the first topics it is likely to consider will be building a coherent local approach to sustainability and developing new service models for health and policing.

Tim Thorogood said, “The panel brings together a number of policy thinkers on a cross party and cross sector basis to consider national policy issues in a new way from a localist perspective. Early discussions have already shown it will generate innovative and challenging thinking.”