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Local government must take responsibility for sustainable development but, by doing so, they will also reap the rew...
Local government must take responsibility for sustainable development but, by doing so, they will also reap the rewards according to speakers at a LGA/LGMB conference today on Local Agenda 21.

Stratford-on-Avon DC leader Susan Juned, speaking after the official launch of the new government guidance on LA 21, said: 'Many local authorities have looked at, and made a commitment to, LA21 strategies but haven't really taken it to the heart of their policies.

'In Stratford we have had to make fundamental changes to our ways of thinking and to our structures.

'And it really has been helpful as, in order to address these problems, we have had to review all our administrative procedures; we've had to look at our resources and we've had to learn how to work with our partners.'

She added that to be successful, 'attention has to be paid to the process, not just the proposals'.

'LA 21 is not an easy option,' she said. 'But the excitement and stimulation really do help and are amazing. We are now able to face change and work with change to address the challenges of sustainable development.'

Sandy Blair, junior vice president of Solace and chief executive of Newport CBC, said that he probably represented the mainstream chief executives who have recognised the challenge but haven't yet found ways to integrate the challenge into policies.

He said: 'The whole thing is integral but it isn't easy. The policy menu is very full - someone has described it as indigestable.'

He said improvement is not just about doing more but finding better ways of doing things. 'We should be prepared at a local level to give a lead to others. The majority of us have to be willing to learn and the support of the LGA and the LGMB is very important; The document published today will be vital in this.'

The issue of priorities was raised by Baroness Young, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who said there was a huge spectrum of work and that identifying priorities - in terms of how to mix local and national or international objectives - was vital.

She also stressed the importance of processes. 'We've got to make sure we've got some clear outcomes mapped out. It's like football - it's not very good if no-one keeps score.'

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