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LOCAL GOVERNMENT APPEARS TO BE MOVING CENTRE STAGE

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Plans to strengthen local leadership and give communities more say, appear to represent a sea change in thinking, t...
Plans to strengthen local leadership and give communities more say, appear to represent a sea change in thinking, the Local Government Association today.

Responding to the five-year strategy for the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister*, and two daughter papers published today by John Prescott's department, Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, LGA Chairman said:

'We welcome government recognition that town, city or county halls are best placed to deliver excellent services, empower their communities and provide leadership for their areas.

'The challenge for this overly-centralised country, to devolve power to elected local leaders, and join up public services at a local level, now appears to be increasingly recognised across government - this represents a sea change in thinking. We argue that power should be devolved to councils, and in turn through them to local people.

'There are many arguments to be had along the way. Imposed one-size fit all solutions, should be rejected, in favour of flexible approaches that meet local circumstances. But the important thing is we are engaged in constructive healthy debate, and it looks like government increasingly sees local councils as the solution, not the enemy.'

'What we need to see is concrete proposals for powers and freedoms to be transferred down from central government and away from the quango state - with real autonomy for all local councils, not just those with directly elected mayors, who in turn can empower local neighbourhoods and communities below.

'We look forward to engaging with government on the detail of these documents.'

* Five Year Strategy

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