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ROBERTSON CALLS FOR CO-OPERATION

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Unitary authorities in Scotland should co-operate across borders to protect against the disintegration of direct la...
Unitary authorities in Scotland should co-operate across borders to protect against the disintegration of direct labour organisations and the further privatisation of services, shadow Scottish secretary George Robertson told delegates.

Mr Robertson warned that the proliferation of joint boards and quangos responsible for strategic services would result in an erosion of accountability.

'Above all, we should try to ensure large contracts are not broken up and finally sold off to the private sector,' he said.

Labour councils would resist this 'if necessary by organising services across council boundaries'.

Much of Mr Robertson's speech was devoted to revisiting the Labour Party's criticisms of government reorganisation policy.

He accused ministers of making 'a dog's breakfast' of reorganisation. Former local government minister Allan Stewart had 'wielded his pickaxe at Scotland's councils in a crude attempt to carve out a few Tory safe havens', he said.

He urged the government to postpone further expansion of compulsory competitive tendering until the 1999 elections. 'It seems utter madness to add to the difficulties of reorganisation by imposing new and unnecessary administrative burdens.'

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