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COUNCILS CAN JOIN UP FOR PRESCOTT'S 10-YEAR CHALLENGE

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John Prescott's commitment today to create a new settlement between central ...
John Prescott's commitment today to create a new settlement between central

and local government has been embraced by the Local Government Association.

Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, LGA chairman, pledged that the association would

meet its side of the bargain to renew and refresh the Central Local

Partnership and help deliver a 10-year strategy that devolves government.

But the LGA warned that the biggest single challenge facing the deputy prime

minister and his department was to ensure that the rest of Whitehall and the

cabinet deliver.

Responding to the publication today of the ODPM's 10-year strategy for local government, Sir Sandy said:

'We strongly welcome a strategy which seeks to bring greater autonomy to

local councils and look forward to working closely in a constructive

relationship to help evolve a new relationship between local and central

government.

'It is clear that the process of negotiating what is done best centrally,

and what is best delivered locally, should be an ongoing one. It is equally

clear that the UK is unique amongst modern economies in its level of

centralisation. That centralisation has to be reversed if we are to free up

councils to deliver effective, efficient and responsive services.

'For the 10-year strategy to become a reality we need all secretaries of

state not just to sign up, but to deliver in practice. Local government has

shown that it is much better positioned than Whitehall to join up public

services. That is why the plans for Local Area Agreements, show so much promise.

'Local Area Agreements, where all bodies spending public money can meet

locally to deliver joined-up services with one pot of money, show a concrete

way forward, provided they are democratically accountable to the public via

the leadership of the local council.'

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