Headlines: June 2nd, 2011

The Next Localism Commission has been launched to shape future of the localism agenda as power shifts from Whitehall to the Town Hall.

The shift of power, which so far has involved lifting restrictions and scrapping targets, is being stepped up with the Localism Bill and Community Budget pilot schemes. The result of these changes is a transformed operating environment where councils and their partners can develop innovative ways of service provision.

The role of the Commission, which is being set up by the New Local Government Network, will be to provide strategic thinking space for councils to come together, share ideas and shape their collective future. Its aim will be to develop a new wave of thinking on localism by examining everything from future council operating models to the role of local politics and the prospects for radical devolution of financial power to localities.

The Commission will include some of the most innovative and forward-thinking figures from councils and beyond.

Rafael Behr, Chief Political Commentator, the New Statesman and chair of the Commission on Next Localism, said: “Across the political spectrum there is agreement that radical ideas are needed to keep public services in this country working. There is also an emerging consensus that innovation must be driven from the ground upwards, with local government taking the lead. But how this will happen, especially at a time of severe spending constraint, is an open question. Our commission will aim to find practical answers. It is no exaggeration to say this is one of the most fascinating and urgent tasks in current British politics.”