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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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Get on the buses...
Get on the buses

It is wrong to suggest the only way to increase bus use is to put buses under council control (LGC, 1 June). Numerous examples have shown that where local authorities work with bus operators, increases have exceeded the excellent results achieved in London.

To say London is a success purely because the mayor has control over bus services is similarly misleading. Success in London has been achieved through a combination of political will and a unique set of circumstances.

London is the only city with a congestion charge and has the most extensive network of properly enforced bus lanes in the country.

Similar increases in pro-bus policies will result in increased ridership outside London through a system of bus quality partnerships between local authorities and operators.

Brian Nimick

Director general, Confederation of Passenger Transport UK

Time to take power

The time has come for councils to demand they be given powers to deal with all matters relating to local governance in their locality.

These will include governance over NHS and other strategic partnership functions so as to avoid the current silo mentality and get away from current legal boundaries and coterminosity arguments and deliver even more Gershon efficiencies.

In other words, return local government to a position it occupied before various governments, of all political persuasions, started to haemorrhage powers away from it to new bodies and quangos.

Mirza Ahmad

Chief legal officer,

Birmingham City Council

The real headline

We were disappointed with the headline costing neighbourhood devolution at£5.5bn (LGC,

25 May). Our concern is less how Whitehall view this, and more that many communities right now are deciding whether to choose neighbourhood management. That difficult work is not helped by off-the-wall figures.

A long-term evaluation of neighbourhood management is being carried out by researchers SQW for the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit. Their latest report shows Pathfinder programmes in deprived areas have costs around£23 per head for 10,500 residents (a fifth of the£112 figure). In schemes covering affluent neighbourhoods the costs are very low indeed,£2-£5 per head.

Ben Lee

Co-ordination team manager, National Neighbourhood Management Network

Can-do culture

Tony Travers should dig deeper to see what's really wrong with the Home Office (LGC, 25 May).

What is needed is a 'can-do' management culture that works smarter - with fewer targets and reorganisations.

Clive Bone

Senior partner, Bone & Robertson

Sound aims on crime

The aim of our report Urban crime rankings (LGC, 1 June) was to measure, for the first time, the variation of crime rates in cities and major towns.

As the Statistics Commission and the Home Office have themselves recognised, the existing crime statistics do not adequately convey levels of crime nationally or between localities. To achieve this, over a period of three months and using Freedom of Information requests, Reform obtained, for the first time, data from individual police forces on key crimes and used Office for National Statistics population data on towns and cities from the 2001 Census - which was the only publicly available comparable data between cities.

Reform has always had a strong reputation for the integrity of its work. We will of course check population data to reach statistics which are above question. Given the longstanding problems in this area, the production of comparable crime statistics is a task of great difficulty, but essential if clearer public information is to be achieved.

Andrew Haldenby

Director, Reform

On the bright side

If we continue to berate the low take-up of e-government services we run the risk of putting a premature end to the scheme.

There are many examples of councils bringing communities together and providing remote or small residential areas with information on emergency services, crime and HomeWatch area news. Rather than continuing to be pessimistic, we should fuel demand by highlighting these successes.

Colin Reid

Chief executive, Consilium Technologies

Please limit your letter to 200 words. LGC reserves the right to edit letters prior to publication

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