Headlines: November 28th, 2002

More than 80 local councils have made it to the next stage of the Beacon Council Scheme – the Government’s initiative for identifying and spreading best practice in local government.The authorities, which have been selected from an initial field of 187, are judged to have shown evidence of excellence and a commitment to spreading best practice in a range of services under ten themes. These included raising standards in education, co-ordinating road works to minimise disruption to pedestrians and motorists, encouraging online access to local services and supporting homeless people.

Bob Clarke, who chairs the Advisory Panel on Beacon Councils, said members had been impressed by the quantity and quality of applications submitted in Round Four of the Beacon Council Scheme. “This year we received the highest number of applications since the first round of the scheme. We continue to be encouraged to see so many examples of good practice and innovation amongst public authorities, making our decision on a shortlist very difficult,” he said.

Mr. Clarke said the shortlisted authorities were all able to demonstrate excellence in service delivery in their themes. The applications will now be investigated further during the next stages of the assessment process.

“Many of those who have not been shortlisted still have valuable experience and good practice they can share with other authorities. The Improvement and Development Agency will be looking at ways to disseminate this expertise more widely,” Mr. Clarke added.

The Local Government Minister, Nick Raynsford, said he was particularly pleased that four out of every ten authorities on the shortlist had reached this stage for the first time.