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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
'Deeper' council reform is urged
A council chamber (library)
The assembly government wants 'harder and faster' change
A review into Welsh councils has said Wales can become a "model" for how services are delivered in small countries.

Sir Jeremy Beecham's report warns that for this to be achieved, reform will need to go "faster and deeper".

But his recommendations stop short of reorganisation, saying making the system work should be a priority.

The assembly government said it had made an "excellent start" but recognised further changes were needed.

The report calls for a collaborative approach already being used as part of the assembly government's 'Making the Connections' to be further developed.

It calls for common principles of citizen-centred, efficient and accountable services in a small country, and for more ambitious leadership at national and local levels.

BEECHAM RECOMMENDS:
Sir Jeremy Beecham
Reducing bureaucracy, simplifying grant regimes, less inspection and regulation
Much more joint working across organisations, sectors and services
No major reorganisation of structures but review in 2011
Willingness to embrace "mixed" provision including public, private and not-for-profit sectors
Enhanced role for scrutiny in the assembly and local government
Greater investment in building capacity and delivery skills
Piloting contracts between the assembly government and partnerships of local organisations
Managing performance better, rewarding good performance and intervening earlier when needed
Redress where service failure occurs
Ensuring the public and decision makers are better informed about performance.

The former chairman of the Local Government Association, Sir Jeremy Beecham, said the object of his review was to get the best possible local services from a variety of organisations.

It was not just about local government, or indeed any plans to introduce another local government reorganisation.

Such a reorganisation would be "a diversion and a distraction", Sir Jeremy said.

'Fully supported'

He said that there would be another review in five years time to establish whether the collaboration was working.

Then, he said, reorganisation could conceivably become a viable option.

Assembly Local Government Minister Sue Essex welcomed the Beecham report.

"It is encouraging that there are already many examples of good practice in Wales where public bodies are working together to deliver improved services to the public," said Ms Essex.

She said the assembly recognised "the need to work even harder and faster to achieve the transformation in public services we all want."

The assembly government will publish details of how it intends to take its public service reform programme forward and act upon the recommendations of the Beecham report in the early autumn, added the minister.

The Welsh Local Government Association, the body which represents Wales' 22 councils, accepted that the report presented "real challenges" with "no room for complacency".

Its leader Councillor Derek Vaughan said: "Beecham's insistence for public services to become more citizen-centred and tougher on performance are key messages which we fully recognise.

"Similarly the emphasis on public sector bodies working together at a level hitherto unheard of is fully supported within Welsh local government."

Welsh Liberal Democrats said it was an opportunity to break the old ties with a Whitehall mentality.

The party's assembly leader Mike German said: "Beecham's report has thrown down the gauntlet to Wales".




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"They need to start engaging directly and frequently with the public"



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