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'DEMOCRATIC' CHARTER BACKED

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The fact that the government values market forces as a mechanism for improving local services does not mean it dism...
The fact that the government values market forces as a mechanism for improving local services does not mean it dismisses the importance of democratic accountability, according to senior civil servant Richard Mottram.

Speaking at the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives annual seminar this week Mr Mottram, permanent secretary in the Office of Public Service and Science, sought to reassure his audience that Citizen's Charter principles do not conflict with local democracy.

Mr Mottram responded to points which have been raised by INLOGOV Professor John Stewart in his writing about the new magistracy. 'I think the government thinks accountability through the ballot box is a weak mechanism for dealing with poor quality services. But we do not see an incompatibility between Citizen's Charter principles and democratic accountabil-ity', said Mr Mottram.

'It is not true to say because we have focused on one we have downgraded the other'. Local government is wrong to think it is being singled out for contracting out, said Mr Mottram. 'Local government has a siege mentality, feels it is being scapegoated and that when changes are to be made we look at local government first. Forget it', he said.

'Changes are going on in the civil service at the same madcap pace as in local government. If you think you've got trouble it is being shared by your brothers and sisters in central government'. Mr Mottram said he was confident that attitudes towards the Citizen's Charter policy are becoming more positive and he welcomed local government's increasing enthusiasm for the Charter Mark award scheme. 'We would say the press we are now getting for the Citizen's Charter is improving'.
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