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The Local Government Management Board is fighting for survival after the Local Government Association recommended i...
The Local Government Management Board is fighting for survival after the Local Government Association recommended it be broken up.

And LGMB staff have criticised the handling of the LGA's review of the board as narrow and premature.

Consultation closes today in the LGA's planned restructure of the board, in which it proposes to take over policy work and separate training into an arm's-length agency (LGC, 26 February).

At a meeting last week, board members endorsed a response drawn up by officers that argued for a 'structurally modest reorganisation, backed up by major changes in process and agenda'.

The paper accepts change is inevitable, saying the creation of the LGA and the new agenda for local government make it essential that the delivery of key services 'should be reviewed and robust changes put in place'.

It agrees environment and social policy should transfer to the LGA, but says other LGMB policy work is too deeply embedded in programmes to be separated out.

Pay negotiations should remain linked to training and development but a stronger link to the LGA could be achieved with a panel of senior members 'to oversee, but not conduct, negotiations'.

The suggestion that pay negotiations could be divorced from other work in a stand-alone body has been one of the most contentious of the consultation.

Chief personnel officers in particular have said training and development needs to remain in an integrated agency with negotiations and employee relations.

Regional employers reiterated this in their own response to the review, which followed similar lines to the board's paper, calling for a streamlined version of the existing structure.

LGMB board member and employers chair for national pay negotiations Brian Baldwin said the response amounted to a 'slimmer, fitter' board and members had debated it vigorously. 'Everyone realises and understands that policy issues should be directed by the LGA. No-one would argue with that,' he said.

The LGMB Unison branch said it had deep concerns about the review, which was being tackled too soon after the formation of the LGA and had failed to properly involve staff.

It urged councils to think carefully before accepting plans to break up or dilute the board, saying the review is 'one way, too narrow and essentially premature' and fails to offer positive alternatives.

The LGA consultation paper says the review does not indicate a lack of confidence in the board, but is intended to ensure arrangements 'reflect the changes local government requires in national work'.

Consultation closes today, with the LGA policy and resources committee due to decide a structure by the end of May.

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