While parties should have the freedom to disagree, it is when local government works together that it is at its most powerful, says LGC’s acting editor
David Sparks’ arrival in the LGA hot seat coincides with the onset of the most important part of the political cycle. As he outlines in an article for LGC, time is running out for the LGA to shape the next five years.
Just 11 months now remain until the general election and the process of writing manifestos is now no longer over the horizon.
Cllr Sparks does not mince his words. He accuses recent governments of all parties of “an abuse of power”, for their persistent meddling in what should be local affairs. On more a positive note, he calls for “a renaissance of careers in local government being valued” and a renewed drive for the public to be made aware of the “fantastic” work their council is doing.
His recent assertion that the LGA should end its “consensus at almost all costs” approach in favour of allowing individual party groups to campaign on certain issues is to be supported.
The LGA has on occasion been hamstrung by the need to find agreement between all parties when individual groups, speaking out as representatives of local government, could have made a far greater impact. Cautious welcomes for government initiatives make no waves.
That said, it is when local government unites that it is at its most powerful. When Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors overcome their differences to state their support or opposition to a particular measure, or devise their own blueprints for the future, the interests of localism are best served.
The freedom that Cllr Sparks has promised should not be used as an excuse to put the interests of party ahead of joint work to provide an alternative to our over-centralised system.