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COUNCILS STOKE THE EMBERS OF THE BONFIRE

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The Welsh Local Government Association is consulting its members over the potential role of councils in delivering ...
The Welsh Local Government Association is consulting its members over the potential role of councils in delivering services in a post-quango Wales.

WLGA leader Alex Aldridge said:

'We are wholeheartedly behind the first minister's drive to democratise quangos and have championed this cause for a number of years. Our discussion paper puts forward radical solutions which explore how councils can deliver some of the quango functions and better respond to the needs of local communities.

'Whilst we agree that many quango functions require a national strategic approach, we are not convinced that there should be a wholesale merger of quango functions within the assembly. Greater accountability and rationalisation does not simply mean centralisation, particularly as most quangos currently have a mixture of national, regional and local functions.

'We believe that there is clear democratic mandate and a logical logistical case for local authorities to be central to the future quango debate.

'The 22 council leaders will discuss this issue, amongst others, with the first minister in early September and I am sure the future of quangos will feature in discussions. We hope that a finalised WLGA position paper on the role of councils in a post-quango Wales will be ratified by the WLGA's coordinating committee on 24 September.'

The WLGA's discussion paper offers a number of proposals to strengthen a local, community-based role in the governance of public services in a post-quango Wales, including:

-Local authorities should have greater responsibility over services such as the provision of sixth form education, business support and community regeneration

-All locally delivered quango services could be co-ordinated through community strategies, the product of public, private and voluntary sector co-operation at a local level

-New regional or sub-regional organisations, accountable to joint committees of National Assembly and local government members, could be established to deliver current ASPB services. It may be possible to incorporate the National Assembly's current regional committees into these new bodies

-A new planning framework for Wales whereby the 22 Community Strategies inform and influence Assembly Government's strategic visions, such as 'Wales - A Better Country' and 'A Wales Spatial Plan'

-There is greater potential for local authority scrutiny of key services which go beyond local authority functions and seeks to further develop their 'community leadership' role enshrined in the Local Government Act 2000

-The Assembly Government should be urged to explore options for holding all UK quangos operating in Wales more directly to account

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