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FT FOCUSES ON COUNCIL SLEAZE

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The Financial Times (p20) carries a feature on local government's 'summer of sleaze'. Glasgow City Council, Paisley...
The Financial Times (p20) carries a feature on local government's 'summer of sleaze'. Glasgow City Council, Paisley BC (now part of Renfrewshire Council), South Tyneside MBC, Doncaster MBC, Kingston upon Hull City Council, Coventry City Council, Birmingham City Council and Hackney LBC are those named as facing serious allegations.

The FT, determined to be fair, states that malpractice is not the norm in the UK's 470 local authorities, and when problems do occur, they are not always Labour ones. Professor of public service management at Liverpool's John Moores University Alan Doig is quoted: 'Take the one-party state, the weakness of the local press, small party memberships, low election turnouts, lack of vetting and control, and you will always get extreme examples coming up.'

What can be done, the FT asks, when most of these problems lie in large majorities sustained over long periods. The government's answer, apparently, is a new offence of corruption which could carry a seven-year prison sentence. Reforming the framework of local government along the lines of the Nolan committee's report is also necessary as local representatives could come to bear more of the weight of government in the UK. At the moment, the FT concludes, 'not all of them seem ready to bear that responsibility'.
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