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Paper  4 - 28 September 2001Meeting

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

28 September 2001

THE NEW CONSTITUTIONS - JOINT AGENDA FOLLOWING THE OPEN FORUM

Report by the Policy Manager

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That the proposals for action in Annex 2 be approved; and
(2) That the Chairman writes to the Secretary of State as drafted in Annex 3.

1. The Association’s Open Forum "Member Structures and Implementation of the Local Government Act 2000" aimed:

* to increase understanding of the new forms of decision making
* to learn and share key lessons about the operation of the new structures
* to develop participants' ideas about the new structures in order to improve working within their authorities
* to develop action for the Association.

2. The event was held at the Langstone Hotel following the Annual Meeting on 29 June. It was facilitated by Jon Harvey of the Office for Public Management. Participants heard of experience so far from: East Hampshire District Council, New Forest District Council and Eastleigh Borough Council.

3. Members and staff from the same authorities were split up into separate discussion groups. The "rapporteurs" from each group demonstrated that a good deal of consensus was developing around their "reports-back".

4. The three annexes to this report give proposals for the future which were emerging from the consensus. Proposals are split into suggestions for individual authorities (annex 1), proposals for the Association (annex 2) and messages to the Government (annex 3).

5. It is for member authorities to take forward the suggestions in annex 1 as they see fit. The recommendations in this report relate to annexes 2 and 3.

NICK GOULDER
Policy Manager

Date: 18 September 2001
Annexes: 3
Contact: Nick Goulder - 023 8068 8431, E-mail hiow@eastleigh.gov.uk

ANNEX 1

OPEN FORUM
Member Structures and Implementation of the Local Government Act 2000
29 June 2001
KEY MESSAGES FOR AUTHORITIES

* Get on with it, be positive and ambitious
* Involve all Members
* Commit to making it work
* Put "the baggage" behind you
* Build confidence and understanding within the electorate about the new Member structures
* Use discipline to manage your agenda and concentrate on core priorities
* Communicate (internally, externally)
* Provide training and development for Members and Staff - play to everyone’s strengths
* Foster partnerships, develop your local strategic partnership
* Focus on lower performing services
* Feed your experience back to HIOW/LGA/GOSE

ANNEX 2

OPEN FORUM
Member Structures and Implementation of the Local Government Act 2000
29 June 2001
KEY ACTION FOR THE H/IOW ASSOCIATION

Action

Proposals

ˇ

circulate/publicise best practice

Use the Association bulletin and website

Develop best practice notes

ˇ

share experience

Encourage development of Member/ Officer training and awareness programmes and in particular networks for Cabinet and Scrutiny Members.

ˇ

list the successes/build on the three presentations

 

 

ˇ

assist authorities with their local strategic partnerships (LSPs)

Chief Executives’ Group to consider the pattern of LSPs across H/IoW and report back.

ˇ

return to this issue

Programme another Forum early 2002.

ˇ

survey authorities again early next year

Policy Manager to initiate.

ˇ

emphasise the diversity within H/IOW authorities and the need for a flexible approach by Government

Lobby MPs/GOSE/DTLR/Ministers

 

 

ˇ

lobby Government to think about the application of policy to two/three tier authorities and unitaries outside Metropolitan areas

Letter to Ministers (see annex 3)

Meet Alan Whitehead MP

ˇ

offer sharing of experience to Members other than Leaders and those appointed to serve on the Association

Encourage the development of training and awareness programme via Hampshire Training Consortium and South East Employers.

ANNEX 3

OPEN FORUM
Member Structures and Implementation of the Local Government Act 2000
29 June 2001
KEY MESSAGES FOR GOVERNMENT

Draft letter to the Secretary of State:

Dear Mr Byers

Local Government Act 2000

This Association welcomes your commitment to "a more adult relationship" between central and local government. We also welcome your pledge at the LGA Conference in Harrogate to cut red tape.

We have held an Open Forum for leading councillors to share experience with implementing the new decision-making structures: in almost all cases the Cabinet/Leader option. As Chairman of the Association, I was asked to make some important points to you which have a direct bearing on the relationship between central and local government.

Clear lessons came out of our Open Forum, which was intended as a training and development event. The messages for our member local authorities were extremely positive:

* involve all Council members in implementing the new structures

* commit to making the new system work

* build confidence in the new system within the electorate.

Members were very clear that government should work in partnership with local government and recognise that our strength lies in our diversity. Local authorities are not all the metropolitan, urban authorities for whom government guidance often seems to be written. The lessons for central government - and regional offices - were:

* let local government get on with the job of local government

* do not over regulate and over inspect

* be supportive of local government

* recognise the diversity of the country, of the south east and of an area such as Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

I hope you will take these as positive messages from the Association, particularly the key messages we are giving our own authorities about working with the government on modernisation. I hope also that you will be able to use this letter as support for your own approach in relation to a fully mature partnership between central and local government.

Yours sincerely

Councillor David Gillett

CHAIRMAN

Last update: 20/09/2001
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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