NLGN’s first annual conference to see launch of opinion survey to measure public views on localism and public service reform
17 January, 2003

The New Local Government Network (NLGN) – the independent think tank that inspired the key political debate on the merits of New Localism – has announced it is conducting a survey to measure local variations in UK public opinion on issues integral to the emerging localism agenda and Government related policies.

The ‘Localism Index’ will involve a commissioned survey of 2000 UK adults, the ultimate aim of which is to compare national Government priorities with the public generally on a host of ‘quality of life’ and service delivery issues.

Announcing the launch of the survey, NLGN Head of Research, Warren Hatter (formerly of pollsters MORI) said today:

“The point about new localism is that it is designed to free up local agencies to act in ways that they see fit to improve the quality of life on their patch. In taking the debate beyond politicians and policy wonks, like ourselves, NLGN is attempting to gauge what new localism means to the UK public. Our hope is that the survey will flag up a set of public priorities to guide policy makers in central and local government”.

In challenging politicians and policy-makers to take account of public views, the survey will identify a range of factors, including:

  • how well people feel that their local council understands local priorities
  • the relevance of government targets to local concerns
  • the degree of local discretion people feel their public services have and should have
  • how people would like their local council to use its powers of well-being

With the publication of initial findings, the Localism Index will establish a baseline against which to measure future achievements of the localism agenda and to understand how people’s priorities are changing over time. The Index also aims to prevent politicians merely paying lip service to new localism, without delivering effective changes to policy. As Mr Hatter stressed:

“Ministers and their advisors hoping to hitch a lift on what has become the latest political bandwagon can rest assured it’s not going to be the smoothest of journeys”.

The survey will be officially launched next week at NLGN’s first annual conference on Thursday 23rd January. Supported by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the conference will also feature a keynote address from Rt Hon Paul Boateng MP, Chief Secretary to HM Treasury.

Joe Montgomery, Director General, Neighbourhood Renewal Unit; Jitinder Kohli, Head of Community Cohesion Unit, Home Office; Lord Warner of Brockley, Chairman, Youth Justice Board for England & Wales; Cllr Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, Leader, Kent County Council & Vice Chair, LGA; Ben Page, Director of Social Research Institute, MORI; Richard Humphries, Director of Health & Social Care Agent Team, Department of Health; Jane Martin, Director, Centre for Public Scrutiny; Dr Wendy Thomson, Prime Minister’s Adviser, Office of Public Services Reform; Andrew Foster, Controller, Audit Commission; Anna Coote, Director of Public Health, King’s Fund; and Dan Corry, Executive Director, NLGN.

The conference will also feature a party political round table ‘Is New Localism Left or Right Wing?’ featuring Labour MP Tony Wright, Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Huhne and an invited national Conservative speaker.

A full agenda for NLGN’s annual conference can be found in the Conference & Events Section.

For a free press place, contact Helen Davies at Neil Stewart Associates on
020 7689 9207 or e-mail: helen.davies@neilstewartassociates.co.uk

All media enquiries to Ian Parker – 020 7357 0116 / ian@nlgn.org.uk

Notes:
NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.

The NLGN ‘Localism Index’ survey will be based on a representative sample of 2000 UK adults. The survey will be conducted and analysed by a leading research agency. NLGN will identify the policy implications.