Written Answers. - Strategic Policy Committees.

Ivan Yates

Question:

683 Mr. Yates asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government if the staff required as part of the process to establish strategic policy committees under local authorities will be recruited through open competition with the possibility of outside staff other than existing local authority personnel or if it is intended that existing staff members of local authorities will be redeployed; and the recruitment opportunities which will arise for job applicants with relevant qualifications in the area. [1489/99]

The establishment of stretegic policy committees is one element in the Government's programme of renewing the local government system, which also includes the strengthening of the local authority management and staffing structures, as necessary, to enable local authorities to service the needs of the strategic policy committees and to be in a position to better meet the needs of the communities which they serve.

Proposals for implementing the Government's policy in relation to this strengthening of local authority management and staffing structures have been the subject of discussions between the Local Government Management Services Board, representing local authority management, and the unions representing local authority administrative and technical staff for some considerable time. The parties to the discussions are meeting in plenary session today and I have asked that they will make every effort to conclude the process at this meeting no matter how long it takes.

It is intended that a number of the new senior management posts will be filled by designation of existing assistant managers and county engineers. All other posts will be filled by competition. While it is intended that recruitment to the new senior positions will normally be undertaken by the Local Appointments Commission through open competition, what has been proposed in the discussions is that the first fillings of new posts will be by means of confined local competition provided sufficient qualified candidates are available. It is also proposed that consequential vacancies in lower grades arising from these initial appointments will similarly be filled by confined local competition. This process will generate significant opportunities for existing local authority officers, technical and administrative, of various grades, to advance within the local authority system.