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OPINION - LETTERS

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Welcome to cohesion...
Welcome to cohesion

It was good to read your coverage on the new Commission on Integration & Cohesion chaired by Ealing chief executive Darra Singh (LGC, 31 August).

I would support your call for the commission to be bold. Although central government sends many mixed messages, the cohesion record of local government is one which deserves to be applauded.

Here in London, we have some of the most diverse communities in Europe. In West London, we were selected to be a Home Office community cohesion pathfinder because of our history of largely successful integration.

This is not to say there are no tensions but, for the most part, west London councils have provided visible community leadership and the commission's chair will be well placed to draw on this real world experience.

Gareth Daniel

Chief executive, Brent LBC

County powers

While agreeing with Tony Travers' overall message (LGC, 31 August) I find his comment about David Curry's alleged commitment 'to rebuild confidence between local government and the Conservatives' puzzling.

Is this the same David Curry who led the attempt by John Major's government to abolish county councils in 1994?

I would be somewhat reassured if Mr Travers' piece had ended with a call to David Cameron to commit to a major shift of power to county and town halls, rather than to town halls alone.

Dr John Godfrey

Clerk to the Sussex Police Authority

A helping hand

Toulmin Smith (LGC, 31 August) is unfortunately one of several in the UK to fall for misreporting of the action taken by Yubari City Council in Japan to address its budget shortfall.

The truth is rather less dramatic, as the council has simply voluntarily allowed Japanese central government to negate its constitutional autonomy by submitting to financial restructuring by ministry officials - a scenario that would be more recognisable in the English context as central government intervention.

Andrew Stevens

Government relations manager, Japan Local Government Centre, London

Let the public decide

There has been comment about the forth coming white paper and what it should and should not include. The opportunity to really address improvements in public services by giving true local accountability is one that should not be lost.

Part of that is ensuring there is a joined-up approach to the delivery of public services. The debate over local strategic commissioning of services has centred around whether unitaries are the answer. However, at the same time there is a debate over the establishment of city regions.

We should take the opportunity to consider a structure fit for the next two decades, rather than just looking at structures created in the 1980s and 1990s. Then the public should decide.

Robin Hooper

Chief executive, Shrewsbury & Atcham BC

Bed tax blunder

In a recent radio interview, Local Government Association chairman Lord Bruce-Lockhart (Con) outlined his position on 'bed tax' which is currently charged in parts of the USA.

He proposed that any such tax could only work in the UK if it were spent on something that the tourism industry backed.

In my opinion, such a move would be an example of ring fencing at its worse. At the Local Government Information Unit we are clear that whatever the source of revenue, it should be spent by the elected councillors in consultation with their communities which would, of course, include the leisure industry.

Dave Wilcox (LAB)

Chairman, LGIU

Phone pest plague

Is there no end of the lengths consultancy firms will go to flog their services to councils?

Like all council leaders, my home contact details are in the public realm. I expect calls from residents across the district as well as from my ward, and the local, and occasionally, national media. I draw the line, however, at being cold called at home by a consultancy firm trying drum up business from my council.

I bet the firm in question wouldn't use this approach on some of the blue chip clients they list on their website, so why do they think it acceptable to try it on councils? Naturally when I rang back for the home phone number of their MD or chairman I was met with a blank refusal.

Ian Barker (Lab)

Leader, Lancaster City Council

Please limit your letter to 200 words. LGC reserves the right to edit letters prior to publication

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