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SINGH AND BEECHAM PRESS AHEAD WITH JOINT BODY

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Districts and mets should press ahead with setting up the Local Government Association, in the face of opposition f...
Districts and mets should press ahead with setting up the Local Government Association, in the face of opposition from county leaders, the chairs of their associations have said.

'The Association of Metropolitan Authorities and the Association of District Councils will be happy to meet with the Association of County Councils to discuss the situation but are of the view that the LGA should proceed,' ADC chair Margaret Singh and AMA chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham said.

Labour reaffirmed its support for a single association, after seeing ACC Labour group leader Ian Swithenbank publicly attack fellow party member Sir Jeremy over the issue.

'We hope the current problems can be resolved quickly and amicably. A single local government association is long overdue and is common sense for local government,' said Labour's local government officer David Gardner.

The DoE is privately frustrated that local government is in danger of missing the opportunity to form a single association after so much preparation. A unified voice would strengthen the DoE's hand in negotiations with other parts of the government, notably the Treasury, it believes.

The ACC and the ADC would lose significant income if the new unitaries joined the AMA. An ACC spokesperson said preliminary work had been done on the ACC's position post- review, but there were no public estimates of how many staff it could keep.

Unison's local authority associations branch, which represents more than 200 staff at the ACC, ADC and AMA, called on the associations to ensure that if the single association failed they would 'safeguard the immediate viability of the existing organisations'.

ACC chair Josie Farrington refused to speculate on the viability of the ACC after reorganisation. She told LGC: 'The most important thing about the eventual structure is that it has the support of all types of authority and political groups,' she said.

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