/ Job application question help - local authority

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teflonpete - on 15 Jan 2014
My GF is applying for a job within the planning department of our district council. The first question on the application is:

"Describe the key challenges facing local government and the implications of those challenges" (200 words)

We live in Bucks and Aylesbury has a number of areas around the town outlined for new estates so I imagine expanding infrastructure, transport networks and services to a wider population in the face of cuts in central government spending on councils is a fairly major challenge.

However, GF and I are both currently private sector workers and haven't really got our ear to ground with respect to what's going on in local authorities. Any ideas or info on specific challenges faced by local councils (bearing in mind the 200 word answer limit) would be greatly appreciated, even if it's just an idea for us to google and read up on.

Thanks in advance,

Pete.

paulcarey - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

challenging financial climate? having to do more with less?

its probably worth having a trawl through the press releases, council meeting minutes and more more generally on the LA website.

Also look at what the different local government assoociations for labour & tory controlled councils are saying too.

hope that helps.

Carolyn - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

I have far more contact with County Council than the Districts, so limited use....

Big cut in budget (allocation from national government) is clearly key! Means a lot of job losses, restructuring, stuff being brought back "in house" and increasing pressure to work in partnership (particularly around health and social care), and general uncertainty.

Locally, the average age of the population is rising year on year - young people move away, older people retire to the area - so increasing costs of providing social care are a big pressure on the budget. Other areas might have the opposite - increase in birth rate, costs of expanding schools, etc - either of which might have implications for housing needs, and so planning.

At County (rather than Distrct) level, public health has recently moved from NHS to Local Authority, but I'm not sure that's terribly relevant to Districts.
Carolyn - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

I'd also look on the Council website - they've almost certainly done a public consultation on their budget, and cuts related to it, in the last few months - might well outline the challenges facing them. And there might be a Council Plan that lays them out, too.
Taking the Mick? - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

Development of greenfield sites over brownfield sites and local housing needs is one significant one.
ebygomm - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

Forward Planning/Planning policy or Development Control/Planning. I might answer slightly differently depending on this.
teflonpete - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to ebygomm:

> Forward Planning/Planning policy or Development Control/Planning. I might answer slightly differently depending on this.

Development control / Planning.
graeme jackson - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

i HS2 going through your area? I would imagine coping with the backlash from that will be pretty challenging
Scarab9 - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

check out any press releases on their website, see if the local council or local MPs have twitter feeds or a website and see what their latest chatter is.

also if it's planning department you should be able to bring up any recent planning applications on the council website and view comments/arguements related to them (or google the addresses and see if a petition is being raised along with comments elsewhere).
The New NickB - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

Increased financial pressures on the authority, 28% cut in funding from DCLG, cuts in various other grants, changes in how business rates are collected, freeze on Council Tax increases. The effects of these on different authorities varies quite a bit, ranging from a minor headache in affluent authorities to catastrophic in more deprived authorities.

Threat to the high street, Portas et al, loss of business rate income.

Government pushing for more and more services to be delivered outside of local government, localism bill, free schools, community asset transfer, right to challenge.

Welfare Reform is having a major impact on local government, bedroom tax, 25% council tax, loss of emergency payments funds, more people in need.

Planning wise, new National Planning Policy Framework in 2012, implementation of Community Infrastructure Levy.

These may not all apply, but it is a starting point. The challenges are limitless.
Nigel R Lewis - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

News in Wales today. Proposal to reduce the 22 authorities through mergers.
I'd suggest the Local Government Association website,but I've been out of it for over a year now so don't know what you'll find.

N
Carolyn - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to The New NickB:

> Government pushing for more and more services to be delivered outside of local government, localism bill, free schools, community asset transfer, right to challenge.

Good points there - indeed, in the localism agenda, neighbourhood plans may be very relevant to planning?
Eg http://www.eden.gov.uk/planning-and-development/planning-policy-for-eden/neighbourhood-planning/uppe...
http://www.rorystewart.co.uk/category/neighbourhood-plans/
And, I imagine, more urban

http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/residents/planning/local-plan/neighbourhood-plans
Spike - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

Fracking is being considered in Bucks and Aylesbury Vale I think. Whilst the planning of this might be a County Matter I'm sure the possibility of such facilities might be described as a key challenge. For instance what if the District Council are against it but the county approve planning (given the recent government financial sweetener).

However I think other posters are correct in identifying the budget issues as the primary challenge
Cú Chullain - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

Have a flick through the 'Rotten Borough's' pages of Private Eye for some inspiration.
ebdon - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

If its planning then i'd focus on localism and the national planning policy framework(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-planning-policy-framework--2)Which brought in some pretty big changes to how planning works in the UK with big implications on how plans are made and implemented
In reply to teflonpete:

Eric Pickles
ads.ukclimbing.com
teflonpete - on 15 Jan 2014
In reply to teflonpete:

Thanks everyone, particularly Nick B, very much appreciated.

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