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MINISTERS URGED TO THINK ABOUT LOCAL DEMOCRACY

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The leader column in The Guardian (p25) today argues that the life is ebbing out of local government. ...
The leader column in The Guardian (p25) today argues that the life is ebbing out of local government.

It points out that education secretary David Blunkett, in his speech to headteachers yesterday, as good as said elected councillors have no future place in schools.

It is not just education that is at stake, it continues. Whitehall insinuates that councils cannot be relied upon to provide satisfactory levels of care for the elderly or protect children.

The leader says the time has come for them [ministers] to tell us what they think the alternative to local democracy is: The NHS model, struggling desparately to reconcile central control while creating space for local leadership? Regions, which barely exist as potential vessels for democracy outside perhaps the north east?

It is not just that, as the Local Government Association says, 'nationalising' education would require the centre to grow new arms and legs in order to manage schools.

Local choice, responding to local conditions, arguing for local needs - these are essential ingredients in any scheme for public services. Removing councillors is a way to dramatise the problem, not to solve it, the article concludes.

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