Place-shaping: a shared ambition for the future of local government
Taking forward the debate on local government
Local government has always had a major and unique role to play in helping to define and deliver successful communities, making decisions and trade-offs on behalf of all local people, and developing a strategic view of the area and its future. It is not just about the provision or enabling of services. It is about shaping successful communities that are socially cohesive, economically vibrant and able to exercise choice and celebrate their distinctiveness.
But if local government is to fulfil this role effectively as we face the challenges of the 21st century, we need to develop a better understanding of what local government is responsible for. This requires a better understanding of what the public want - as citizens, service users and taxpayers. It also requires a debate about some hard choices: how can we get the right balance between national standards and local variation? How can we most appropriately balance what the public want and what they are willing to pay for, and in doing so how can we manage pressures more effectively? And who should be accountable for what?
Evidence gathering activities
The Lyons Inquiry undertook a range of evidence gathering activities after starting work in 2004. This included the commissioning of research and a series of public engagement events during 2005, the results of which were published alongside Sir Michael's Interim Report and Consultation Document in December 2005.
Following on from the extension of the Inquiry's remit in September 2005, a further series of evidence gathering activities were undertaken during the course of 2006.
Sir Michael published an Interim Report and Consultation Paper in December 2005. Many submissions received in response to that consultation exercise were published on this website alongside Sir Michael's paper "National prosperity, local choice and civic engagement: a new partnership between central and local government for the 21st century" in May 2006.
The May 2006 publication in turn invited people and organisations to contribute their thoughts on the issues discussed within it - many of these submissions will be published on this website when Sir Michael publishes his final report and recommendations around the time of the next Budget.
A final, short round of consultations took place following the second extension of the Inquiry in December 2006, specifically looking at the possible impact of the Barker, Leitch and Eddington reports (published in December 2006) on the role, function and funding of local government.
Local authority partnering
A large number of local authorities responded to Sir Michaels December 2005 consultation exercise. Sir Michael also wrote to English Chief Executives on 20 January 2006
asking for their help in developing a clearer picture of the future role and functions of local government, and in particular by drawing on their understanding of what the public wants from their council. He encouraged councils to engage directly with their local communities and assist in providing him with information on some issues central to his remit.
In relation to direct community engagement, he was keen to hear about existing work being carried out by councils relating to the role of local government or other issues of relevance to the Inquiry and invited offers of community consultation relating specifically to the Inquirys remit.
The Inquiry has also carried out some more in depth analysis of stakeholder views and attitudes, council services, partnership working and best practice. These case studies have taken place with the following councils (one council in each English region): Barnet
; and Southampton
Part of Sir Michael's work with partner local authorities has centred on particular service areas, including social care; health and wellbeing; community safety; economic development and driving efficiency; children's services; and waste management. Following on from the work in the local authorities, Sir Michael hosted a series of half-day seminars as follows:
- Waste management - 11 July 2006
- Presentations from the event (Adobe Acrobat file 722kb)
- Social care - 12 September 2006
- Presentations from the event (Adobe Acrobat file 1.35Mb)
- Health and wellbeing - 21 September 2006
- Presentations from the event (Adobe Acrobat file 535kb)
- Driving efficiency - 19 October 2006
- Presentations from the event - (Adobe Acrobat file 197kb)
- Community safety - 30 October 2006
- Presentations from the event - (Adobe Acrobat file 598kb)
- Children's services - 9 November 2006
- Presentations from the event - (Adobe Acrobat file 326kb)
- Housing - 21 November 2006
- Presentations from the event - (Adobe Acrobat file 351kb)
Councillor engagement meetings
During July 2006, Sir Michael hosted a series of meetings with local authority councillors. The meetings, for which councillors were invited to self-nominate to attend, took place in Liverpool, Warwick and London.
Public deliberation events
As part of the local authority case studies, the Lyons Inquiry undertook a series of public deliberation events in each of the nine case study areas.
- Executive summary
- Full report (Adobe Acrobat file 702kb)
The role of business in developing local economic prosperity is central. During August, Sir Michael hosted a series of round-table events in Leeds, Newbury, London and Coventry with local business people to hear their views on the role and function of local government.
Outcomes from these discussions fed into Sir Michael's National Conference on Economic Prosperity
, held in London on 14 September 2006. This conference looked at the emerging role for local authorities and agencies in promoting economic growth.
Getting involved in the debate
Throughout his Inquiry, Sir Michael has welcomed contributions from all people who have an interest in the role, function and funding of local government. The Inquiry has recieved contributions by post, email and through the interactive portion of this website. This evidence gathering phase has now finished and the Inquiry cannot accept any further submissions.