Five steps to active citizenship and a more supportive society November 4, 2005

Chris Leslie, Director, NLGN Public Servant Can you name your next-door neighbours? If you saw someone vandalising a parking meter, would you report it to the Police? If so, then you are a prime candidate for the accolade ‘active citizen’. These tests may be simple and the hurdle set apparently low, but they are two […]

Property tax isn’t theft November 4, 2005

Chris Leslie, Director, NLGN Public Finance The Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report is a fragile early Christmas present for Council Finance Directors. On the one hand it probably contains extra goodies and interest; on the other it can mean extra work putting together the pieces. The normal demands from local authorities for extra revenue support are likely […]

Forward Thinking October 27, 2005

Chris Leslie, Director, NLGN Local Government Chronicle There are certain buzzwords that cause groans of cynicism in some quarters, chief of which is “partnership”. Perhaps because years of public policy reform have finally drummed into all organisations the blindingly obvious importance of “joined-up thinking”, or perhaps it is because cross-organisational working is now so commonplace […]

City region debate at the crossroads October 21, 2005

Chris Leslie, Director, NLGN Regeneration and Renewal Over the past few months it has looked increasingly as though regionalism is facing a fork in the road, with the direction the Government chooses hanging in the balance. The ‘no’ vote in the North East regional assembly referendum has forced all instinctive regionalists to pause and take […]

You knows IT… October 20, 2005

Ian Parker, Head of Strategic Communications, NLGN
PR Week

You know the feeling. You arrive handy to work on a Monday morning ready to fire off a statement to the weeklies relating to some issue or other that has captured part of the weekend news agenda. But on entering the office, you find a bunch of anxious colleagues, looking rather perplexed because the organisation’s IT server has opted for a duvet day and nothing is working.

All politics is local October 17, 2005

Chris Leslie, Director, NLGN
Parliamentary Monitor

When the returning officer reads out your name as the duly elected Member of Parliament for the aforesaid constituency, there is a moment of elation and exhilaration quickly followed by anticipation of exciting things to come. For many MPs, though, this moment of triumph will not have been their first at an election count, given the now well-established trend where a near majority of MPs have already been elected as local councillors previously. A locally elected background can be an excellent apprenticeship for national politics – I had served three years as a Bradford councillor before winning Shipley at the 1997 General Election. But if you imagine that going from local to national government is an exponential leap into greater complexity, tougher debate, or higher-stakes intrigue, you would be wrong.

Local Councillors October 14, 2005

Dick Sorabji, Head of Policy, NLGN
Local Government Chronicle

As Whitehall’s joining up agenda gathers pace there is a need for sharper executive leadership. Direct elections to the executive will help, but this has been seen as a threat to the backbench, or local councillor.

In fact separate elections for local councillors, representing a specific neighbourhood, but excluded from the executive could achieve three goals: attract more diverse talent to elected office, create a constituency that will drive through government plans for empowered neighbourhoods and reverse recent problems with the role of non-executive elected office.

Crossing the divide October 13, 2005

Chris Leslie, Director, NLGN
Municipal Journal

In the world of office politics – especially in the public sector – there are a few universal truths that emerge from time to time. One is that there will always be tensions between those who direct change and those who implement it. The relationship between political leadership and senior officers can sometimes depend on the comparative strengths of an elected mandate versus a permanent specialist expertise. In central government there are, in theory, long-standing conventions to determine how decisions are taken and implemented, though the temptation for caricature can be overwhelming. In one episode of ‘Yes Minister’ these tensions boiled over into a classic case of civil-service speak…