Latest Public Sector News

23.02.17

Shaping the future of local government through districts

Source: Feb/Mar 17

Mark Pawsey (pictured), the MP for Rugby and the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for District Councils, explains why he hopes the group’s work will strengthen the case for districts as local government becomes an increasingly important driver of the UK’s future success.

The role of local government in helping to make the UK a success has arguably never been more important – national prosperity requires local action. As an MP with two district councils in my constituency, I am determined to see district councils play a leading role in shaping the future of local government. 

Last year, I was pleased to be elected chair of the APPG for District Councils. The group was formed to promote the interests of district councils, and raise awareness of the work of districts with Parliamentarians. 

In January, we held the first evidence session of our inquiry into collaboration and devolution. The inquiry is being supported by the District Councils’ Network (DCN) and the Local Governance Research Unit at De Montfort University. We know that districts are committed to innovative and collaborative ways of working that improve outcomes for their communities. The inquiry is an important opportunity to highlight this work. 

Through DCN’s member network we have written to the UK’s 201 district councils asking for their examples of good collaboration arrangements and the role of districts in devolution. Some of the main themes which have emerged in the written evidence from councils include housing; approaches to public service reform; functional economic areas; effective working with county councils; and the clustering of district councils as a distinct way of organising collaboration between them. 

In the first session, our cross-party panel of MPs and Peers took evidence from councils that are involved in particularly innovative collaboration arrangements with other councils. 

The panel heard from Hart (representing the five councils partnership of Hart District Council, Havant Borough Council, Mendip District Council, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils), Kettering, Oxford City, Selby and South Cambridgeshire District Council (representing South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City) on how district collaboration across political, geographical and economic divides can deliver effective and efficient services in local areas.

In future sessions the APPG will take evidence from councils on the different ways that districts are collaborating with other local agencies, international best practice examples of local government collaboration, and the potential for districts to access new powers, responsibilities and incomes from devolution. 

The APPG will hold a further three inquiry sessions before we present our findings and recommendations to government at a Parliamentary reception later this year. We hope that our findings will strengthen the case for districts as local government becomes an increasingly important driver of the UK’s future success.

For more information

Connect Communications provides the secretariat to the APPG for District Councils. For all enquiries about the work of the Group, please contact Celia McSwaine on: 

E: c.mcswaine@connectpa.co.uk

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