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LGA UNVEILS VISION OF UNITED FUTURE

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The Local Government Association hopes to establish a united vision for the future of council relations with centra...
The Local Government Association hopes to establish a united vision for the future of council relations with central government during its annual conference in Bournemouth next week.

The process will begin with a debate at the association's general assembly on whether the LGA should produce a local government manifesto in a bid to influence the Westminster parties' election manifestos.

LGA chief executive Brian Briscoe said: 'We hope the conference will demonstrate that all parties in local government have a vision of what the relationship between councils and central government should be.'

The association hopes its key messages - that councils are serious about improving services and are shifting with changes to the economy, society and the public's expectations - will emerge strongly from the conference. It also wants to emphasise the value of local democracy and elected members.

The event will examine the future of local government, and the association plans to release three documents to highlight the theme.

The LGA annual review and a compilation of the latest information about local government's performance will sum up the present, while a document setting out three possibilities for the shape of councils in 2010 will examine the future.

A debate on freedoms and flexibility will see The Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland and Conservative MP Tim Houghton discussing how a far more relaxed local government regime might work.

Also speaking are Conservative leader William Hague, home secretary Jack Straw, London mayor Ken Livingstone and Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Don Foster.

LGA Conservatives plan to meet during the conference to discuss group elections.

They believe their own election rules should be changed to recognise the growth in Conservative support since the association was formed. At that point, the Tories controlled only 12 councils.

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