Paul Boateng MP, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to ‘new localism’ in a speech to the New Local Government Network’s first annual conference – a conference also supported by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
In a keynote address at a central London venue, Mr Boateng told an audience of senior figures drawn from local and central government, and from across a range of sectors and public policy interests:
“There is a growing recognition across central and local government, that it is no longer possible either to run economic policy or deliver strong public services that meet public expectations using the top-down one-size-fits all solutions of the past”.
Outlining Government plans to bring lasting change to localities across the UK, the Minister added:
“We need to think harder about Community Leadership – what it means and how we make a reality of it. Freedoms and flexibilities are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for effective local services. We need to work towards a positive vision of local government, building on and sharing best practice, working with us on national priorities like child poverty and urban regeneration, rethinking public space and the public realm, reconnecting with citizens by working with new partners in the private and voluntary sectors.”
Conference hosts, the New Local Government Network have been a key body in moving the new localism debate forward. Late last year, its executive director Dan Corry co-authored a pamphlet New Localism: refashioning the centre-local relationship with Professor Gerry Stoker of Manchester University. The foreword to the pamphlet was written by the Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury, Ed Balls, who also spoke at the launch event. A day later, Gordon Brown addressed an audience in John Prescott’s constituency, championing ‘the new localism’, since when the ODPM has announced that high performing local authorities are to be given increased local flexibility and freedoms – a key tenet of the new localist philosophy.
In an opening address to the conference, Mr. Corry welcomed the Government’s enthusiasm towards new localism, noting:
“Twelve months ago, you would not have caught anyone in Government referring to new localism – what a difference a year makes”.
The conference also saw NLGN announce its ‘New Localism Index’ – a series of opinion poll surveys to be conducted across the UK to assess public views on a wide range of issues key to putting new localism into practice. Among other aims, the survey will seek to establish if people mind that local services are delivered differently from those in neighbouring areas.
NLGN’s first annual conference ‘New Localism: How to Deliver Change, Innovation and Choice’ took place at the Victoria Park Plaza Hotel, 239 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1 on Thursday 23rd January. A full agenda can be found in the ‘News’ area at www.nlgn.org.uk
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Notes for Editors
- NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.
- Other speakers at the NLGN annual conference included:
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
Alan Riddell, Deputy Director General, Neighbourhood Renewal Unit
Andrew Foster, Controller, Audit Commission
Anna Coote, Director of Public Health, King’s Fund
Tony Wright MP
Chris Huhne MEP
Nick Boles, Director, Policy Exchange.
- New Localism: refashioning the centre-local relationship by Dan Corry and Gerry Stoker is available from York Publishing Services (price £10 plus £1.25 p+p). Tel: 01904 431213. Fax: 01904 430868. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- On 5 February, NLGN and the New Health Network are co-hosting a lecture Localism, health and local government: devolving power and responsibility by Rt Hon Alan Milburn MP, Secretary of State for Health. Full details will be available shortly.