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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…

Open local data

May 24, 2011

Last night I attended a seminar at the UCL’s Constitution Unit which featured a presentation from Chris Taggart – developer of –  on open local data. Rather than write up a whole post, I thought I’d try just sharing my notes – which are in a Google Doc here. Chris’ slides are here.

For those short of time – they key issues were – Read more…

What can councils learn from bees?

May 23, 2011

Nature, it turns out, can tell us quite a lot about how we queue, communicate and decide things. In his book Smart Swarm, Peter Miller explains how bees decide on the location of their new nest site. The location of a new nest is not a trivial choice, its life or death. The bees get one go and if they choose badly they will die of cold, starvation or predation. In controlled experiments the bees always get it right.

When a colony swarms it leaves its old nest site, travels a bit and then has a rest. The scouts fly off and search out new sites. When the scouts return they perform a waggle dance to explain where the new site is. Other scouts go to the site to see for themselves and eventually the colony decides. There are some interesting features of this decision making. The queen is not involved, in fact most of the swarm is dozing and there is no strategic overview, no one bee visits all the available sites. Read more…

HoL inquiry into behaviour change

May 19, 2011

The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee is investigating the use of behaviour change to achieve public policy objectives. It is critically examining the Government’s embracing of recently-popular “nudge” principles to influence people’s choices.

It is also analysing the evidence base for different forms of interventions to change behaviour and the ethical issues to which they give rise. The written evidence and two case studies on obesity and travel mode choice will be helpful to local authorities in considering behaviour change strategies. Read more…

Government response to Wolf Review of Vocational Education

May 18, 2011

Prof. Alison Wolf (Professor of Public Sector Management at King’s College, London) was asked last year by the Secretary of State for Education to review how to improve vocational education for 14-19 year olds and thereby promote successful progression into the labour market and into higher education and training routes.

Her report (covered in a previous LGiU briefing) set out a very thorough analysis under three main headings: the social and labour market context; the educational context; and an audit of current provision. It made 27 recommendations Read more…

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