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RAYNSFORD AKNOWLEDGES DEBT OWED TO DEPARTING BEECHAM

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Local government minister Nick Raynsford has led the tributes to outgoing Local Government Association chair Sir Je...
Local government minister Nick Raynsford has led the tributes to outgoing Local Government Association chair Sir Jeremy Beecham.

He said Sir Jeremy was 'owed an enormous debt by the local government community and the country as a whole for the services he has rendered'.

But Sir Jeremy, whose seven years at the helm of the LGA come to an end next month, insisted he would not be disappearing from the scene.

He said: 'I have been preparing myself for a less high-profile role. But there's a serious job for the leader of the Labour group to influence government and party. That I will continue to do.'

LGA chief executive Sir Brian Briscoe said that without Sir Jeremy the association he chaired since its formation in 1997 would not exist.

Sir Brian said: 'It would not have survived without his personal skills and

good humour. The LGA is now part of the furniture - in 1997 it was a highly contentious idea.'

He added that Sir Jeremy had effectively been local government's leading national figure since 1991, when he became chair of the then Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

He was instrumental in the formation of the LGA from the AMA, the Association of County Councils and the Association of District Councils.

Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart (Con), who will succeed him as LGA chair at next month's conference, said: 'Jeremy has done a terrific job. He has taken the LGA forward from a time when it was three separate organisations.'

Mr Raynsford added: 'He has kept the flag flying for local government in difficult years and in better times.'

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