Archives for August 2003

GETTING BETTER VALUE FROM LOCAL GOVERNMENT INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

Features, PublicNet: 23 August, 2003

By Rhion Jones The Audit Commission’s Best Value inspections have rated two thirds of councils below the ‘good service’ level for e-government. The author presents an analysis of a sample of the Commissions ICT reports, draws out the key messages and offers suggestions for the future.



A NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND TEACHER UNIONS

Features, PublicNet: 22 August, 2003

By John Dunford Reproduced by permission of the Public Management and Policy Association. Demands by the teacher unions for a reduced workload were an important ingredient in the process leading to reform of the teaching profession. John Dunford, General Secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, charts the course of the reform which has changed the character of the Government – unions relationship from confrontation to partnership.

FUND WILL SPREAD SUCCESS OF ANTI-ARSON INITIATIVES

Headlines, PublicNet: 22 August, 2003

Fire Services, the police and other groups will be able to bid for a share of a four million pound fund to finance schemes designed to combat arson. Successful bids from local partnerships are likely to range from schemes to clear abandoned cars before they are torched, which have proved successful in several parts of the country already.The money announced by Fire Safety Minister Phil Hope is from the Arson Control Forum Implementation Fund, which comes from the Government’s 43 million pound, three-year investment in fire prevention work in England and Wales.

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EVENT TO LOOK AT COUNCILS’ ROLE IN ENCOURAGING YOUNG VOTERS

Headlines, PublicNet: 22 August, 2003

A conference next month will explore ways in which local councils can do more to ensure that young people contribute to democracy at both a national and local level. The event, ‘A Young Voice in Society – Listening To Tomorrow’s Voters Today, takes place in London on Thursday October 16th as part of Local Democracy Week.It is being aimed at the public sector in view of falling interest in local politics and declining turnout for local and national elections. The organisers say it will redress these trends in the long-term by encouraging local authorities to involve young people in service planning and decision-making. Many young people do not tend to engage with their local council or councillors and have little idea about the services provided locally from which they could benefit or how to approach their authority if they need to. Councils too are out of step with young people’s issues and concerns and how to involve them in planning for the future of their districts.

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MEMBERSHIP GROWTH KEEPS MAKING SPACE CAMPAIGN ON TARGET

Headlines, PublicNet: 21 August, 2003

A campaign to develop a network of contemporary out of school clubs for 11 to 16 year olds, says it has more than 300 new members who are developing the clubs across the country. The figures mean the 2.5 million pound national Make Space campaign is well on the way to meeting its target for this year.The campaign, supported by the Nestle Trust, and managed by Kids’ Clubs Network, a childcare charity, has been driven by research showing 70% of 11-16 year olds believe young people commit crime because there is not enough for them to do and, at any time, a little under half of parents do not know exactly where their teenage children are after school.

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SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS LACK OF FREEDOM AS FLAW OF CPA PROCESS

Headlines, PublicNet: 21 August, 2003

A substantial majority of senior figures in local government are not satisfied with the freedoms and flexibilities they are offered by government. The finding comes from a unique survey of the councils that went through the first round of Comprehensive Performance Assessment.It shows that less than a quarter of local authority chief executives and under a third of council leaders were happy over the issue of promised greater freedom but found that more than three-quarters of the surveyed chief executives of the 150 councils, assessed under CPA by the Audit Commission, found that the process had been useful in judging performance.

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HEALTH SCRUTINY GUIDANCE

Abstracts, PublicNet: 21 August, 2003

The document provides advice and recommendations on the scrutiny of health services for both local authority overview and scrutiny committees and NHS organisations. It will also be useful for patients’ forums as well as other organisations representing the views and interests of patients and the public.For the first time, democratically elected, community representatives have the right to scrutinise how local health services are provided and developed for their constituents. The powers enable overview and scrutiny committees to consider local services by inviting senior staff to provide information and explanations about how local needs are being addressed. Members of scrutiny committees need to take a constructive but challenging approach to the role, bringing together evidence and people’s experience to identify priority issues and drive forward improvement. To achieve this, it is important for elected councilors who are involved in overview and scr utiny of health to gain an understanding of the NHS and the provision of health services, as well as to understand local needs.

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LEARNING ABOUT LEARNING

Book News, PublicNet: 20 August, 2003

By Samuel MaloneThe book aims to help managers outside the HR arena better understand the complexities of learning, one of the key factors of people management and development. It is a dictionary of the terms and phrases used by HR professionals to describe the theories, models and concepts around the learning process. It is aimed at every employee or manager who has ever wanted to understand how to train and develop themselves or others, but has been put off by the jargon around the subject. This book provides clear,concise explanations of everything to do with learning, from Ability to the Zeigarnik effect.

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ONLINE FORUM BRINGS TREATY TALKS OUT OF ‘SMOKE-FILLED ROOMS’

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 August, 2003

The government has created an online forum for the debate on the proposed European Constitution. The system, launched by the Europe Minister, Denis MacShane, will allow those who log on to discuss the issues directly with ministers and officials.The Foreign Office has worked closely with Graham Allen MP and the Hansard Society to set up the independently monitored website which will allow everyone who chooses to put their point of view to the people who will be conducting Britain’s negotiations on the proposals.

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STRATEGY SETS OUT STEPS TO COMBAT CRISIS IN REGULATORY RECRUITMENT

Headlines, PublicNet: 20 August, 2003

Local authorities and professional groups are calling for a million pounds of government money to fund a range of measures to combat the crisis in recruitment of environmental health and trading standards officers. The Local Government Association is warning that without action Britain is facing a public health meltdown and more freedom for rogue traders.It points to recent research by the Employers’ Organisation for local government which shows that almost half of councils cannot recruit enough environmental health officers and just over a third are facing similar problems with trading standards staff. As a result, it says, inspections have fallen by ten per cent, putting public health and safety at risk.

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