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QUANGOS AND LOCAL AUTHORITIES MUST WORK - AND MODERNISE - TOGETHER, SAY LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEADERS

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The LGA has called on the government to make thousands of local unelected quangos more publicly accountable in a bi...
The LGA has called on the government to make thousands of local unelected quangos more publicly accountable in a bid to strengthen democracy.

A new report by the Local Government Association's urban commission states that many authorities now believe quangos have an important part to play in boosting local democracy and accept the contribution these bodies can play in local communities.

But the report also highlights the need for the government-appointed bodies to become less secretive and accept greater openness.

The report, entitled `Local Quangos and Local Governance', states: `The best interests of local communities lie in extending participation in democratic governance beyond the narrow circle of local politics and party activists.'

It acknowledges that a vibrant society should include a whole range of organisations which can help further community democracy, but do not necessarily need to be elected.

John Harman, chair of the urban commission, said: `Multi-agency partnerships are vital if we are to achieve a strategic community vision.

`But a level playing field is vital, and we will be encouraging the government to introduce measures to ensure all public bodies are subject to the same standards of probity and ethics.

He added: `The modernisation agenda which has been so enthusiastically embraced by local authorities must be extended to include all locally appointed bodies and the government itself.

`Although some quangos are improving their accountability and engaging with their local community, some don't even view this as part of their remit.'

The commission is calling on the government to join it in undertaking a review of local quangos and to include a reserve power in forthcoming local government legislation for local authorities to enforce quango co-operation.

NOTES

(1) The report was compiled as a result of written submissions and two days of oral hearings with local authorities, partner organisations and other commentators on the activities of local quangos, the first such time the LGA has collected information in this way. A summary and full list of the recommendations is available on request from LGCnet. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.

(2) Local quangos and local governance: report of the LGA Urban Commission. Copies are available from LGA Information on 0171 664 3131. Published by LGA Publications. Code CA057 ISBN 1 84049 075 6

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