Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government
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More power for local councils results in better services
Major changes in how councils are organised have led to more visible and effective leadership, faster decision-making and better public services, according to a five year study commissioned by Communities and Local Government.
The final report, issued this week (5 October) and produced by academics from the University of Manchester, also concluded there was a link between stable and powerful political leadership and customer satisfaction with services.
The research looked at the impact of changes in the Local Government Act 2000 which gave local authorities with populations over 85,000 the option to adopt either a mayoral or a leader and cabinet system to enhance executive decision-making.
Local Government Minister John Healey welcomed the publication as further proof that Government policies on giving councils more freedom to decide how they are organised were working:
"This study shows that giving councils a more visible and effective leadership role has led to faster decision making, better services and improved public satisfaction.
"That is why we are going even further, enabling councils to move more easily to whole council elections and allowing all councils to initiate a review which will aim to provide for a single-member in each district ward or county division."
The measures are included in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, currently before Parliament, as part of wide ranging reforms to devolve more power to local government and empower local communities.
Note to Editors
The New Council Consitutions - The Outcomes and Impact of the Local Government Act 2000
The publication is available on the Communities and Local
Government website at:
A summary of the publication can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/localgovernment/councilconstitutionsresearch1
The report represents the final overall statement of findings of this independent evaluation led by the University of Manchester, with Goldsmiths College and Salford University.
Local Government Act 2000
The main aims of the Act were to:
* Create more visible and effective political leadership
* Enhance public respect and trust in local government
* Provide sufficient checks and balances to ensure continued accountability and transparency
The Government subsequently built on this in October 2006 with the White Paper 'Strong and Prosperous Communities' on the future role and structure of local government which set out many changes, including plans to give people more say on public services and action in their area.
The main changes are:
* reducing central government control
* setting up the framework for strong and high-profile local leaders
* giving more power to local people and communities
* making sure local services go on getting better and become more joined up
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill
The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, due for Royal Assent this autumn, provides the framework to help local government lead communities and deliver better services tailored to local needs. It will:
* Enable district councils to more easily move to whole council elections by removing the roles of the Secretary of State and giving all councils the ability to request that the Electoral Commission conducts a review to establish if single-member wards are appropriate for its area. The requirement that metropolitan districts must have three-member wards is also removed so that the Electoral Commission has the flexibility to recommend any number, in line with other types of authority in England.
* Require councils to adopt either the leader and cabinet executive; mayor and cabinet executive or directly-elected executive model (except small councils who can continue to operate the modified committee system)
* Devolve powers to district councils to create, alter or abolish parish councils, and to end the need for the Secretary of State to confirm most byelaws made by local authorities, including parish councils, before they can be enacted.
* Strengthen the scope of overview and scrutiny committees and setting out the Community Call for Action process for local issues.
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