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Open to scrutiny...
Open to scrutiny

So local authority chief executives believe regional development agencies (RDAs) must become more accountable (LGC, 18 May).

RDAs are already accountable to the secretary of state for trade and industry, as well as RDA regional boards. Additionally, we are scrutinised by regional assemblies and the National Audit Office.

RDAs were set up with the expectation that regional assemblies would become fully elected - but as this has not happened there should be a review of powers and responsibilities. There are many opportunities for ensuring greater scrutiny and accountability, ranging from the appointment of ministers for each region, to establishing a parliamentary select committee to oversee regional policy.

Margaret Fay

Chairman, One NorthEast

Landfill priority

I welcome your article on the way national government has spread responsibility for local government (LGC, 11 May). This has been going on for some time and government has not been heeding important warnings.

The environment was separated from local government in 2001 with great damage. In the case of waste management, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs states there needs to be a£10bn investment over the next 15 years, in order to avoid the UK being fined for failure to meet the Landfill Directive. The fines are being passed on by the Treasury to local authorities and could be£1-3m.

Councils are facing rising costs of waste management on an issue managed at government level. Should not this core resource issue be a matter for the new Department for Communities & Local Government?

Colin Roberts

Chair, London Remade

Qualifications work

Jenny Rogers' comments about the MBA in the Career Clinic (LGC, 11 May) could have been more positive.

Working in a sector which tends to favour the established professional disciplines over general management qualifications has meant that the MBA is not always highly valued.

Nevertheless, there is no better way for an individual to develop their career.

Stephen Fitzgerald

Deputy director of finance, Hounslow LBC

Plan for the worst

Your article (LGC, 18 May) on local resilience forums (LRFs) misses an important concern.

This relates to the vast range of sizes, both in terms of staff and geographical areas covered. I discussed this recently with a chief constable who pointed out that neighbouring forces were so disparate that in one, a division run by a superintendent has more staff then the entire neighbouring force.

This has to lead to weaker links in larger LRFs, which may well reflect adversely on the combined response to an emergency.

Dr J Asquith

Chairman, United Kingdom Emergency Planning Society

World is your oyster

Transport secretary Douglas Alexander has announced the extension of Oyster cards to include other trains in the capital, but the failure to add greater flexibility to the card's functionality into other goods and services raises questions about smart card deployments.

The capabilities exist to enable smart cards to deal with small value transactions, such as payment for groceries, but the infrastructure is rarely in place to support these applications.

The creation of successful smart cards would be boosted by public and private sector organisations working together.

Marc Hudavert

Vice-president & general manager, ActivIdentity EMEA

Cultural maths

Does it really take a case study (LGC, 18 May) to establish that Liverpool, a city of nearly 450,000 people covering an area of only 113 km2, will have more cultural facilities per km2 than Herefordshire, the most sparsely populated unitary authority, with a population approaching 180,000 covering 2,180 km2?

That statistic prompted me to do another calculation. Based on the respective net budget requirements, Liverpool has some£3.9m per annum to spend on each km2 compared to Herefordshire's paltry£54,000 per annum per km2. That's an interesting insight into the difference between rural and urban funding and about as meaningful as the case study!

Neil Pringle

Chief executive, Herefordshire Council

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

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