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MINISTER ADMITS ERROR OVER RURAL POLICY ROLE

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A minister has admitted the government failed to acknowledge councils' key role in rural policy, and that decentral...
A minister has admitted the government failed to acknowledge councils' key role in rural policy, and that decentralisation is a key plank of improving delivery.

Rural affairs minister Alun Michael told a Local Government Association conference that the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs had volleyed a string of unco-ordinated initiatives at councils as part of a top-down approach to policy.

He said: 'Old style command and control from the centre won't deliver real targeted service improvements for local communities and economies. Of Defra's 10 public service agreement targets all but one depend on councils to deliver them.'

He echoed the findings of the Haskins Review in saying that devolution of power is necessary to boost efficiency, target need and make policy more user sensitive.

But he said this would involve regional development agencies, parish and town councils and the voluntary sector, as well as principal councils.
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