Headlines: September 5th, 2007

A local government think-tank is urging Gordon Brown to build on the forthcoming report of the Councillors Commission to develop a new generation of local leaders. The call has come from the New Local Government Network, which welcomed the Prime Minister’s comments on his desire to end top-down governance from Whitehall and empower local communities.

The NLGN now wants Mr. Brown to ensure local government leaders play a central role in re-engaging people in local politics. It argues that the creation of a new generation of local leaders will help reconnect local people with local government. The NLGN Director Chris Leslie said that the tone of the Prime Minister’s speech, in which he dismissed the idea that Whitehall knows best, was encouraging for those who wanted greater power to be devolved from central Government. His commitment to reinvigorate local democracy and devolving powers from Whitehall, Mr. Leslie said, was extremely positive, particularly the ambition to explore renewed powers for local government and stronger local accountability for the police and health services.

“Placing devolution at the heart of his new politics, we hope that the era of true localism is about to begin. His appreciation that many key policy areas are better delivered with local knowledge and expertise provides a refreshing counterweight to those who argue against further devolution, “ he said and added, “I hope that the Prime Minister will use this opportunity to think about the ways in which local politicians and community activists can be fully engaged in bringing people closer to politics.”

The NLGN is particularly keen to see the Government build on the work of the Councillors Commission, which is due to report in November on its findings following its investigation into improved ways to support elected councillors and to encourage more people from a wide range of backgrounds to play a role in their communities.