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LET'S GET TOGETHER, HILARY ARMSTRONG TELLS LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR

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Local government and the private sector must talk to each other - or risk missing out. That's the message from loca...
Local government and the private sector must talk to each other - or risk missing out. That's the message from local government minister

Hilary Armstrong.

Stressing the importance of partnership Ms Armstrong said lack of

communication can lead to misunderstanding on both sides - and that

can ultimately prove costly to the taxpayer.

Ms Armstrong told a conference yesterday today:

'Our White Paper published in July makes clear we want to see

outward looking and responsive local government. Local government

that leads its community and in the process delivers high quality

services at an affordable price. Local government in partnership with

the public, private and voluntary sectors so as to bring a fresh

approach to service delivery.'

Research published yesterday (see LGCnet: `LGMB STUDY ON COUNCILS'

ATTITUDES TO PRIVATE SECTOR FUNDING - SUMMARY OF FINDINGS') shows there is still a gulf in understanding between the public and the private sectors.

'I welcome the publication of this research into local authority

views of the private sector and in particular private sector

funding,' said Ms Armstrong. 'The research is encouraging. Success

begins with the recognition of a mutual need and it is highly

significant that it is those authorities that have engaged most

closely with the private sector that are most aware of how far there

is to go in reaching a common understanding. 'Much has already been

achieved but this research shows we cannot underestimate the task

ahead.'

The minister highlighted some action the government has already taken

to improve these relationships. These include:

six new Best Value Partnership Network pilots;

development of Private Finance Initiative in local government-66

endorsed in England;

quick progress of Local Government (Contracts) Act;

research into the development of new public/private partnerships to

produce Best Practice guidance.

The minister also welcomed other initiatives from the 4Ps and Local

Government Association which are enhancing communications.

Ms Armstrong added:

'Effective partnership does not happen because government wills

it. It needs both partners to recognise where the other is coming

from - to understand what each has to offer and to learn to share

lessons and avoid blame.'

NOTES

- Copies of the research, by Fran Button Consultancy, into local

government attitudes towards the private finance community is

available from the Local Government Management Board, Layden House,

76-86 Turnmill Street, London EC1M 5QU. Price #25. This was jointly funded by DETR and LGMB.

The department has also jointly funded a complementary study of

private sectors funders' attitudes towards local authorities with the

British Bankers' Association. A full report from that study is due to

be published November 1998.

- The 4Ps is the Public/Private Partnership Programme Limited, a

dedicated unit established in April 1996 to help local authorities

develop PFI and other partnership initiatives.

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