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ACSeS CONFERENCE: LAWYERS TOLD TO SEEK INFLUENCE

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Lawyers must influence the forthcoming legislation on political structures, the outgoing president of the Associati...
Lawyers must influence the forthcoming legislation on political structures, the outgoing president of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors said yesterday.

In his opening address to the ACSeS annual conference in Southampton, Felix Hetherington said lawyers 'have a sense of fairness and the trust of members'.

'We are at the heart of what authorities do, so we should claim the high ground in this area and seek to influence the legislation, because we will have to implement it,' he said.

Civil servants at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions are keen for council lawyers to get involved, stressed Mr Hetherington, who is about to retire as clerk to the Isle of Wight Council.

He accepted that the committee system needed to be reformed, but reminded delegates of the main stengths of the existing system - open decision-making and checks and balances.

'If you are going to change it you have to have regard to the checks and balances which have kept local government very clean in this country,' he said.

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