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LGA ACCEPTS ROLE OF QUANGOS

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A new report from the Local Government Association said it was clear that quangos had a 'potential role in widening...
A new report from the Local Government Association said it was clear that quangos had a 'potential role in widening participation in democractic governance' provided they became more representative and accountable, according to The Financial Times (p14).

Quangos' expenditure now exceeds the local government budget, and the LGA estimates almost 70,000 appointees serve on their boards, compared with 23,000 elected councillors in England and Wales.

The report says that as quangos grew under the last government, local authorities had made 'emotive calls to reverse the process' and restore powers. But there was now an emphasis on securing greater accountability in all agencies of central and local government, whether elected or not.

The LGA report acknowledges that communities benefited from extending participation in democractic governance 'beyond the narrow circle or local politics and party activists'.

The association believes elected councils are the most appropriate local co-ordinating bodies. But the report envisages that shared strategies could lead to joint delivery of services between agencies.

However, it also argues that quangos continue to suffer a 'fundamental democratic defecit', particularly with regard to appointments and accountability.

It believes that the government should subject all public spending bodies to the same standards or probity and ethics, and the forthcoming statutory requirement on councils to achive best value should be extended to quangos.

The position adopted by the LGA follows a series of hearings and interviews with specialist witnesses conducted by its urban commission.

John Harman, leader of Kirklees MBC and chair of the commission, said: 'Multi-agency partnerships are vital if we are to achive a strategic community vision.'

- see LGCnet (27/10/98) `QUANGOS AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES MUST WORK - AND MODERNISE - TOGETHER, SAY LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS'

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