Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart told delegates to the CIPFA annual conference in Brighton there had to be a shift of accountability from central to local government.
'Why should a minister answer questions about chewing gum on the streets or an individual child being expelled?' said Sir Sandy. 'We need a visible shift of responsibility away from ministers. But to do that we must offer to take responsibility.'
His views were echoed by public administration select committee chair Dr Tony Wright (Lab). 'Ministers never say it's nothing to do with me. But until they do, we will never break out of the culture we are in,' he said.