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The Local Government Association has identified its policy and campaigning priorities.

An executive sub-committee meeting next Tuesday has been invited to endorse a list of 'priorities for action', consisting of restoring financial discretion to councils, improving relations between central and local government, developing the concept of best value for services, expanding councils' role in community governance, and promoting a renewal of local democracy, by such means as encouraging citizens to become involved in decision-making.

A paper from director of communications Carol Grant stresses that the launch of the LGA will be its most important promotional exercise. Her strategy for communicating the LGA's message inside and outside local government calls for maximum use of the six months remaining before the launch, and a strong follow-up.

'The launch of the LGA is akin to the promotion of a major new product. The 'unique selling proposition' of the LGA is the fact that it is a new, single voice. It is vital that all members and staff see the communications strategy as a vehicle to 'sell' the LGA, not simply as a continuation of the lobbying and PR work of the existing associations,' says Ms Grant's report.

The LGA is acutely aware that its launch will almost certainly coincide with the general election campaign, and the association is anxious not to be drowned out.

The meeting next week will also consider membership subscriptions. The proposal is to have a minimum subscription of £7,000, a maximum of £100,000, and a damping mechanism to help councils facing sharp rises on the costs of membership to their existing association.

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