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BEACON BASHERS HIT PET PROJECT

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Local government minister Hilary Armstrong has rejected claims that beacon council plans would allow ministers to r...
Local government minister Hilary Armstrong has rejected claims that beacon council plans would allow ministers to reward their pet councils.

Labour members of the environment select committee claimed ministers were centralising power, as they would decide who was 'best'.

Ms Armstrong said: 'The whole issue of beacon councils came from my concern that too often it is the poorest that control local government. It is not going to be ministers deciding on their favourites. It will be a process of assessment and evaluation using straightforward criteria.'

She told Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman a group would advise the government on the criteria. The group would be appointed once the legislation is passed, she said.

Rejecting a suggestion from Nuneaton MP Bill Olner that the beacon concept was part of a divide and rule strategy, Ms Armstrong said: 'It was dreamt up by me. I wanted something that will have a carrot as well as the sticks we always hold.'
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