Your spoof white paper (LGC, 20 April) was very funny. I'm hoping the real thing will be a bit more serious. It needs to set out a clear statement of intent to empower and improve local government, and kick-start a long-term process of change.
I'd like to see a meaningful vision for neighbourhoods, with new vehicles for people to help run their own communities, a bigger role for local government in public service delivery and economic development and a clear economic and growth agenda for city regions.
The structures for delivering all this are less clear. Communities and local government minister David Miliband must encourage cities to be imaginative about their leadership models, and that includes directly elected mayors.
Director, Centre for Cities,
Institute for Public Policy Research
The ground force
Michael Heseltine's calls to merge the roles of chief executive and leader speaks little about the future structure of local government, but volumes about the perception of leadership (LGC, 13 April).
The delivery of massive and rapid urban regeneration projects, that shame the turgid pace of change of national government initiatives, highlights the fact local government has some tremendous examples of leadership.
It is local government that the electorate look to for cleaner streets, greener open spaces and safer communities.
The electorate cares little about structure and 'who is in charge'. What they will judge local government on is what is delivered on the ground.
Chief executive, Association for Public Service Excellence
Spread the word
I was encouraged by the recent Society of IT Management's survey announcing that visitors to council websites increased by 40% last year.
It is interesting that nearly half the visitors came to council websites via search engines, and only 12% came via council promotion or referral.
I embrace the proactive move by citizens to look for information themselves online. However, the onus should not lie on the citizen taking the initiative or accidentally stumbling across such a valuable resource.
Councils should be pre-empting this marketing opportunity in order to support a system which clearly cuts costs for them and improves efficiency.
Local government strategist,
There is a reason why double-decker trains work well on the Continent (LGC Letters, 20 April), while the two experimental British trains introduced in 1945 were never a success.
Continental track is different. Double-decker trains in Britain would indeed need to run on different tracks, and this would involve major work to bridges and tunnels comparable to the overhead electrification programmes.
Director, Resource Synergies Ltd
I share Chris Leslie's concerns about not centralising political activity still further through state funding of political parties (LGC, 20 April). There is another potential model - the Westminster Foundation for Democracy - which already channels state funding through political parties to their sister parties overseas.
Building on the suggestion of matching funds raised locally, such a model could fund local projects bid for by political parties for specific activities like consulting and communicating with residents more effectively.
Jessica Crowe (lab)
Rodney Brooke is right, the GLC was indeed innovative (LGC, 20 April). In 1972 the British Productivity Council produced a value management film with a clip showing a team at County Hall using value analysis on school furniture. Had this baby been allowed to grow and not been thrown out with the bath water of cuts shortly after, history might now be different with a working best value policy and rising productivity.
Today's public sector resembles a fleet of guided missile paddle steamers. The skills and weaponry of doctors, social workers, engineers, etc, are modern, but the infrastructure is in a time warp.
Senior partner, Bone & Robertson
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