Headlines: March 24th, 2005

Community and voluntary organisations are being offered a chance to shape the future of local government. They have been urged to use their position to drive forward decision making at a local level and help ensure the effective delivery of services.The call has come from Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford in urging groups to contribute to the Local Vision debate – the Government-led discussion on a ten year strategy for the future for local government. It is looking into issues such as the role of local authorities in community leadership and how involvement and participation in neighbourhoods can be increased.

The Government claims its approach recognises that effective engagement between local councils and their communities is vital to the future of democracy and the efficient delivery of services. Mr. Raynsford said his call for contributions to the debate reflected a discussion that was already underway in the voluntary and community sector, facilitated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the National Asscoiation of Councils for Voluntary Service as well as other national and local organisations. The dialogue also includes the Home Office and IdeA.

The voluntary and community sector and local government were already working together in a number of different areas and these partnerships were excellent building blocks for the Local Vision debate, he said. “The debate is a great opportunity for the sector to widen perspectives and open doors. The local state of the future must be inclusive, serve diverse groups and people in our local communities and meet their needs and aspirations, work in which the sector has a central role to play,” he added.

IDeA Executive Director Lucy de Groot said developing and promoting effective joint working between local government and the voluntary and community sector was one of the Agency’s key priorities.