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LGA in danger of becoming 'a third estate in Whitehall', says chair

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The LGA is in danger of becoming “a third estate in Whitehall”, according to its chair.

David Sparks has revealed he believes the organisation that represents local authorities has drifted apart from its members as he is “acutely aware” the LGA has “insufficient contact” with councils on a daily basis.

During a question and answer session after his speech to delegates at the Solace summit in Liverpool, Cllr Sparks said: “I’m acutely aware that…one of the deficiencies of the LGA is the fact that there is insufficient contact on a daily basis with local authorities. That can lead to a situation where it’s almost as if we become a third estate in Whitehall and we have to watch that.”

During his address, Cllr Sparks said he had “long been an advocate for regional government but the fact of the matter is there is no appetite out there [for it].”

He said people identified with “cities, counties, towns and villages”. As a result, he said, devolution would look different in different places.

Cllr Sparks said local government would need to argue for devolution to “probably a combination of local authorities” but warned gaining more powers and control over funding were not inevitable. He said the challenge was “to make sure people know how relevant local government is”.

“We have got to argue on the basis that it’s devolution to communities through councils,” said Cllr Sparks. “We have to anchor ourselves in local communities, not just because it makes for effective local government but because individuals relate to communities far more than they do to arbitrary boundaries.”

Cllr Sparks said that devolution to “local government and local communities” provided “the cement for a United Kingdom”.

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