England & Wales

More on local accountability, incentives to tackle empty home and starting points for aspiring online cllrs

The road to reform – Writing in the RSA Jornal, Andrew Adonis calls for less rhetoric and more communication about how local and central government will collaborate to make services more efficient.

We agree that Big Society needs to be more than just a slogan and local authorities must play a central role in it. This is why we set up the Big Society Learning Network – a 5 month long initiative that gives councillors the opportunity to learn in a supported environment about how these issues can be worked through in the authority and how communities can be prepared for the challenges ahead. Only through such communciation, collaboration and co-porduction can the Big Societystart to be become a reality. 

An Accountability challenge?  On accountabilty Adonis makes two keys points: local accountability will need to be strengthened and for different accountability mechanisms to work alongside one another. Continuing this theme, John Tizard, Director of the Centre for Public Service Partnerships here at LGIU, suggests in Public Finance these issues will be best addressed by recognising the democratic legitimacy and place shaping role of local government and empowering it with the necessary authority to fulfil this leadership role.

New incentives to tackle the blight of empty homes – The lack of affording housing is well documented. As a way of alleviated some pressure, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell is offering councils incentives to get some of the 300,000 long term empty properties across England inhabited once again. The government will match the council tax raised for every empty property brought back into use – which can be spent as they wish. Any thoughts on this initiative are welcomed. 

Hyperlocal reporting from Old & Sad – more useful than the mainstream? Richard Jones, creator of Saddleworth News is doing a cracking job chronicaling the daily drama surrounding the forthcoming byelection. Being a local resident, his interviews with the candidates are adding true local value and perspective to the election and will ultimately help voters make more informed decisions on issues relevant to the constituency.

The Online Councillor – Part experiment using a new social bookmarking platform/part promotion for our upcoming ‘new ways of connecting with communities seminar’, we’ve collected a short selection of interesting and insightful resources that explore the tools available to online councillors and the advantages that this news engagement brings.