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LEAK: LABOUR IS SPLIT AND WILL OPPOSE BLAIR

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Papers leaked to LGC from the Local Government Association Labour group reveal plans to oppose Tony Blair as well a...
Papers leaked to LGC from the Local Government Association Labour group reveal plans to oppose Tony Blair as well as serious divisions between counties, districts and metropolitan councils.

Minutes of a Labour group leading members' meeting last month reveal a group preparing to lose its control of the association, debating when it should oppose the government, grappling with serious structural problems in the LGA and trying to prevent rows between different types of council over funding.

Members discussed how to prepare for Labour losing control of the LGA, and 'at what point we go into opposition (including of the government)'.

The group now wants to pursue 'more cross-party working, in particular with the probable loss of control in mind'.

The minutes outline discussions about the LGA's cumbersome committee structure and whether it is 'robust enough to really lead the agenda'.

It was felt 'there was a serious problem to be addressed with regard to the structures of the LGA', partly brought about by 'a need to massage egos when the LGA was first set up'.

The tension is 'between transforming an unwieldy committee system and still making people feel they are involved. It was questioned whether a vast majority of the members of committees actually felt involved anyway'.

The Labour group queried whether the pressure to reform the committee system was less important for the LGA than for councils 'as arguably the LGA does not deliver any services'.

Other questions raised included: 'Are we missing a trick on public relations?'

On relations with government, the group says these have been good with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, but 'not so good' with the Treasury and the Department for Education and Employment.

Weaknesses identified in the LGA's first-year performance include not doing enough to form partnerships with other bodies, and underestimating how fast the government intended to move with constitutional reform.

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