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Transparency, what transparency?

June 17, 2011

John Fowler

OK, I admit I am nosey, and I also felt like a relaxing 30 minutes with Excel’s Pivot Tables, but the announcement that the weakest 200 primary schools in the country will become academies in 2012/13 made me test the Government’s claim to be a transparent administration.

The DfE website has a transparency site which digging down leads to a claim that access to the data underlying statistical releases publishes by the Department since July 2010 is available. And that the December 2010 publication Key Stage 2 Attainment by Pupil Characteristics, in England 2009/10 contains the underlying data.

Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Read more…


Who runs the Councils in No Overall Control?

June 10, 2011

Council Control lists and maps, such as the LGiU and LGC map, leave lots of grey when it comes to the 54 councils that are currently in No Overall Control. There was a time when NOC meant some councils had rotating committee chairs and power genuinely was shared across the council chamber. Since the introduction of the Cabinet system in most authorities, decisions are made by the executive, rather than in Committees. Effectively this means whoever forms the Cabinet can get on and run the council, with only the occasional need for approval by the full Council on such things as budget setting or constitutional changes.

Below are details of who is really running the current no overall control councils. In all cases, it shows the party of the new Leader of the Council and the majority party on the Executive. Read more…

c’llr June 2011 – Digital Democracy

June 8, 2011

C'llr June 2011 cover imageWe are focusing on digital democracy in the June edition of c’llr. Regular readers of the local democracy blog and other LGiU reports will know that we have long been advocating the immense opportunities offered by open data and social media technologies. The potential to find, listen to, respond to and engage with people, with communities, with groups small and large is exciting. As is the creative challenge offered by these technologies to do things differently – the possibility of designing and delivering services in new ways, of adding new dimensions to the definition of democracy. 

In June’s c’llr we hear from councillors and officers from around the country about how they are using digital tools to enhance and develop what they do. There are articles from leading practitioners in the digital world, including Martha Lane-Fox and Anthony Zacharzewski, about the opportunities, challenges and problems that will present themselves as councils go forward in a digital world. Read more…

The Builders’ Breakfast goes to Sheffield

June 7, 2011

The second Local construction business breakfast has taken place in Sheffield to explore ways of bolstering local economic growth.

Read more…

Localism Bill: a Review

June 7, 2011

The Localism Bill receives its second reading in the Lords on today, where it will without doubt be subject to some rigorous scrutiny.

Given the interest in the House of Lords on constitutional and governance matters, it can be expected that a number of aspects of the provisions for elected mayors will be thoroughly scrutinised. The Lords will also be interested in the retention of powers – Henry VIII clause – to introduce change through regulation on the Community right to Challenge, as well as the use of delegated legislation more generally in the Bill. Peers will also take a lively interest in the section on Assets of Community Value, and its capacity to address what is emerging as a heritage issue for localities. Read more…

Developing the New Adult Social Care Workforce

June 6, 2011

There is a huge amount of helpful detail in the two major strategies published by Skills for Care and local authorities will wish to consider these in more detail.

The documents demonstrate that the cultural change required in social care can only be achieved by developing the workforce, and that old ways of operating in the training and professional development arena will no longer be sufficient.

Councils will need to be very clear that workforce development is a priority and completely integral to commissioning and strategic development, rather than something that can be left on the back burner.   Read more…

Jonathan Carr-West’s speech news:rewired

May 31, 2011

Below is a copy of the speech Jonathan made at the news:rewired conference on Friday.

Back in 2009 we started looking at how councils can respond to the new web agenda. We wrote a think piece called Local Government 3.0 which looked at the different ways in which councils around the country were using new social media technologies to engage with communities, deliver better services and drive efficiencies.

In that paper we argued that we need to stop thinking of web 2.0 as a set of tools and see it more as a way of thinking and doing that is open, transparent, engaging, collaborative, non-hierarchical and creative. Read more…

You & Yours

May 31, 2011

As we put out on Twitter early this morning, today’s You & Yours on Radio 4 is on the Localism Bill. Below is the blurb from their website – they’ve got loads of questions they want answering, so lots of opportunity to get involved.

Call You and Yours with Julian Worricker. The Localism Bill is well on its way to becoming law but does anyone really know what it is? It appears to be about devolving more power to local communities and giving them the chance to organise everything from their allotments to running local schools. While some people welcome it others see it as way of taking power away from local councils. So who would benefit people or should the system be left as it is with the state having more control? How will these plans be financed? Some fear it could lead to controversial decisions involving areas like planning. So are you in favour of the proposals? Would you use them? How would you use them? How will it be implemented long term?
An opportunity to contribute your views to the programme. Email or call 03700 100 444 (lines open at 10am)



What price and risk for local financial autonomy?

May 26, 2011

Now that budgets are set and elections over, it is time for both politicians and officers to focus on two major proposed changes to local government finance: the CLG led Resource Review on how to relocalise business rates; and the abolition of Council Tax Benefit, to be replaced by local schemes.

Both will start in April 2013 with varying impacts across local government and the other authorities funded from business rates and council tax.  Diverse local economies across the country are one driver of the different responses emerging. The local government resource review contains real opportunities (see earlier LGiU blog) and aims to fulfil the Coalition agreement promise of “radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government”. Read more…

Open data and the relocalisation of the web

May 26, 2011

Jonathan’s speaking about local open data at tomorrow’s news:rewired event. The presentation will  identify those councils embracing open data, discuss the potential benefits of greater openness in local government and provide insight in to central government policies that are driving the ‘digital by default’ mentality. As we did a lot of thinking on this, I thought it would be worth blogging some of the ideas that didn’t make the final edit. Jonathan’s presentation will be uploaded tomorrow.

We’re currently seeing a ‘relocalisation’ of the web. Much of the internet’s momentum until now has been about the eradication of geography but new(ish) developments– hyperlocal and community websites, geo-location tagging and local, open data – are all about engaging with place and with where people are. Read more…

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