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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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No pressure...
No pressure

I refute Nick Golding's suggestion that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is placing pressure on councils to restructure (LGC, 30 March).

We have made it clear we want to establish a mature debate about the future. We are not encouraging those in local government to restructure - that is a decision for them. We are encouraging councils to consider how we can put in place the governance arrangements that best reflect local communities, best promote growth and tackle inequalities, and deliver cost efficient services and value for money.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP

Parliamentary under secretary of state, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

No unitary dream

You story 'Cameron rubbishes Miliband proposals' claims Gloucestershire CC is contemplating bidding for unitary status (LGC, 6 April). I can tell you we have no such intention.

We remain unconvinced that, even if the democratic issues could be resolved, the financial problems can be overcome. Councils would have no guarantee that any savings would not simply be swallowed by yet more cuts to funding.

We're focusing on fighting the cuts to our NHS, highlighting our consistently poor government funding and making things better for Gloucestershire people, not being distracted by Mr Miliband's latest exercise in paper shuffling.

Barry Dare

Conservative leader, Gloucestershire CC

Home sweet home

The Wanless report's important points on housing should not be overlooked. Sir Derek's investigation into elderly care (LGC, 30 March) says 'the demands of an ageing society come too low on the list of strategic housing priorities'.

In January the government announced the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department of Health, and the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, together with external partners, would develop a strategy for housing and older people by 2006-2007. The findings from this King's Fund report add to the evidence that this needs to be developed, implemented, and championed across government

as soon as possible.

Gordon Lishman

Director-general, Age Concern

Ferret fury

Having just read Carol Grant's column on the local government strikes (LGC, 6 April), I can barely contain my rage.

But having straightened my flat cap and reassembled the ferret cage I've just kicked over, I will endeavour to respond in a measured non-aggressive, informed manner.

Firstly the quote claiming there was a low strike ballot turnout - are you aware of the percentage of the electorate who voted the current Labour government into office? Twenty-two percent.

Do you think it's a luxury belonging to the local government pension scheme? You conveniently disregard the fact that members contribute

5-6% of their gross salary.

Many people have remained in local government because they recognised the merits of the pension scheme.

Shaun Osborn

Derby

Legal rule

Those of your readers who have witnessed claim and counter-claim in relation to the rule of 85 must by now be confused.

The government's primary argument for abolishing this pension rule is a legal one. However, few people familiar with the European Age Directive believe this imposes any meaningful constraint.

The cost of retaining the rule is significant. However, while this may seem to justify its stance, the Local Government Association might like to reflect whether it really makes sense to alienate staff. It could just as reasonably be arguing for fair treatment for its own staff and financial assistance from government.

Tony Worth

Somerset

Follow my lead

I am writing in response to your story (LGC, 16 March) which featured a quote from mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill.

Ms Thornhill claims it is only through having an elected mayor that you get proper leadership.

I am not an elected mayor - I am the leader of the Solihull community. I undertake my duties on behalf of all of the people of Solihull. Being an elected mayor would not alter that.

I think Ms Thornhill is confusing the element of good leadership of communities with the mechanism that has brought her to her position of power.

Ted Richards (con)

Leader, Solihull MBC

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

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