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LGA LAUNCH INDEPENDENT COMMISSION

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An independent commission is to be launched into how the Local Government Association and its related bodies should...
An independent commission is to be launched into how the Local Government Association and its related bodies should develop to provide the strongest leadership, support and voice for councils.

The review, which has been established by the LGA but will conduct its work independently, will be headed by Lord Best, the LGA president and include leading figures from the broader public sector (1).

LGC story THINK TANK WILL HELP LGA RAISE ITS GAME

The remit of the commission (2) is to review the need of the LGA and its related bodies to:

* Position local government in the vanguard of public service reform to create places where people can thrive

* Strengthen the ability of the LGA and its related bodies to influence Whitehall and Westminster

* Work with councils to win the public's hearts and minds

* Ensure councillors and council staff feed into national policy and lobbying work

* Lead the sector to provide an ever better deal for taxpayers

The first meeting of the commission will be held on 15 September. It will study the issues by visiting councils and other interested bodies around the country, hold meetings in London once a month and commission focus groups and other research. The commission will submit a report to the LGA in early 2007.

Paul Coen, who became chief executive of the LGA in June, said: 'The LGA has achieved a great deal since it was formed ten years ago. We have most recently set out in Closer to People and Places a radical agenda for reform in both central and local government. By common consent, the tide is turning in favour of those who argue for a decentralised and devolved approach to public service improvement.

'In that context, we need to reflect on our own future and that of the broader sector to make any changes necessary to ensure we can capitalise on that opportunity. The independent commission will make a major contribution to ensuring our next ten years are even more successful than our first decade.'

Lord Best said: 'Councils face significant challenges and opportunities. A white paper on local government is due in the autumn. The Lyons inquiry reports in December. The comprehensive spending review completes next year. The LGA itself has already outlined its vision for the future with the publication of People and Places, calling for a switch of power from central government to councils and beyond to local people.

'During this period of rapid change, the LGA and councils need to ensure that their case is persuasive not only with government but also with the public. The commission members and I are delighted to have been asked to lead in this important review and look forward to listening to a wide range of views about how the LGA and its related bodies can be best placed to fulfil this role.'

Lord Bruce-Lockhart, LGA chairman, said: 'Local government has a unique opportunity to turn the talk about localism into reality and to achieve our ambitions of improving services and the way of life in the towns, cities and villages where people live and work. We have a clear sense of direction. But we need to improve our workings and build on our relationships with all member authorities and our partners. I am confident that Paul Coen's initiative will help, and I keenly await Lord Best's report.'

Notes

1. The other commission members are: Cheryl Coppell, chief executive of Slough BC; Peter Hetherington, journalist; Paul Kirby, Partner KPMG; Irene Lucas, chief executive of South Tyneside BC; Dame Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

The joint secretaries to the commission are Debbie Wood, corporate programme director, LGA, and John O'Brien, director of Local Government Performance and Practice, DCLG, who begins a six month secondment on 11 September.

2. The terms of reference are that the review is to consider: the working practices and current pattern of relationships and respective roles and positions between the LGA, member councils, related bodies and their stakeholder groups; reflect on the efficiency and effectiveness of these to deliver the sector's strategic objectives; and make recommendations on the development of the LGA's role and strategic purpose and activities into the medium and longer term, to ensure it provides the leadership, representation and services that councils need to enable them to achieve their objectives.

The review will be: independent, transparent and provide a framework in which difficult and complex issues can be aired and tackled; qualitative not quantitative, and conducted in a way which draws in the views and opinions from across the country using methods such as structured interviews, focus groups, benchmarking activity, and one to one interviews; resourced effectively; conducted in a way which engages a wide range of members, member authorities, partners and others.

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