More councils leave the LGA

November 16, 2010 3:46 PM

Yesterday, details of another group of councils opting to cancel their expensive subscription to the Local Government Association emerged. The list, published on ConservativeHome, shows how more councils are realising that the £50,000 membership subscription fee could be better spent elsewhere, helping to protect frontline services. With imminent cuts in council spending, the fee charged by the LGA is a cost many councils have decided they simply cannot afford.


The localism agenda is one which the LGA should in theory be fully supportive of. Yet their philosophy seems slightly confused. They are torn between wanting greater power for local authorities and increased funding from central government. The two do not marry well. The LGA have become a group who shamelessly defend local authorities at every juncture. They seem completely oblivious to wasteful council spending.


Rather than encouraging councils to find ways to make savings effectively and efficiently, using examples of councils that have successfully done so, the LGA’s response to the Comprehensive Spending Review was to instantly claim it would mean devastating cuts to frontline services. A very unhelpful response. Instead of praising those councils who have made innovative savings, and increased efficiencies, and rather than helping other councils make such savings, the LGA are themselves an obstacle to localism.


If this body is to continue to exist then it has to become more transparent, more accountable, less bureaucratic and more in touch with reality. If they do not they may see more councils queuing up to leave. The LGA can either choose to help councils or pursue the less helpful strategy, similar to that of trade unions.


After having listened to evidence being given to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee yesterday, it became increasingly apparent that now, more than ever, it is imperative the localism agenda is given space to flourish. This is something that has to be decided at an individual council level and here at the TPA we will continue to highlight areas of waste at Local Government level. At the same time we will continue to highlight innovative ways councils are reducing spending and increasing transparency. Councils and local residents know where there is fat to be cut. With increased council transparency and an effective message, the public can be involved in this process, when the axe does then fall, there would be wider agreement.


Undeniably the localism process is one that will take time, however is one that must begin post-haste. With trust in politicians devastatingly low and unprecedented cuts on the way, there has never been a more essential time for such a shift. If local councils were truly accountable to their residents, they may be far more restrained in the appropriation of taxpayers’ money. Mike Denham explains the compelling arguments for localism here.


The exact contents of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill, revealed later this month, is something to examine closely. Here lies a great opportunity, one which central government must help facilitate and which local government must embrace.

Yesterday, details of another group of councils opting to cancel their expensive subscription to the Local Government Association emerged. The list, published on ConservativeHome, shows how more councils are realising that the £50,000 membership subscription fee could be better spent elsewhere, helping to protect frontline services. With imminent cuts in council spending, the fee charged by the LGA is a cost many councils have decided they simply cannot afford.


The localism agenda is one which the LGA should in theory be fully supportive of. Yet their philosophy seems slightly confused. They are torn between wanting greater power for local authorities and increased funding from central government. The two do not marry well. The LGA have become a group who shamelessly defend local authorities at every juncture. They seem completely oblivious to wasteful council spending.


Rather than encouraging councils to find ways to make savings effectively and efficiently, using examples of councils that have successfully done so, the LGA’s response to the Comprehensive Spending Review was to instantly claim it would mean devastating cuts to frontline services. A very unhelpful response. Instead of praising those councils who have made innovative savings, and increased efficiencies, and rather than helping other councils make such savings, the LGA are themselves an obstacle to localism.


If this body is to continue to exist then it has to become more transparent, more accountable, less bureaucratic and more in touch with reality. If they do not they may see more councils queuing up to leave. The LGA can either choose to help councils or pursue the less helpful strategy, similar to that of trade unions.


After having listened to evidence being given to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee yesterday, it became increasingly apparent that now, more than ever, it is imperative the localism agenda is given space to flourish. This is something that has to be decided at an individual council level and here at the TPA we will continue to highlight areas of waste at Local Government level. At the same time we will continue to highlight innovative ways councils are reducing spending and increasing transparency. Councils and local residents know where there is fat to be cut. With increased council transparency and an effective message, the public can be involved in this process, when the axe does then fall, there would be wider agreement.


Undeniably the localism process is one that will take time, however is one that must begin post-haste. With trust in politicians devastatingly low and unprecedented cuts on the way, there has never been a more essential time for such a shift. If local councils were truly accountable to their residents, they may be far more restrained in the appropriation of taxpayers’ money. Mike Denham explains the compelling arguments for localism here.


The exact contents of the Decentralisation and Localism Bill, revealed later this month, is something to examine closely. Here lies a great opportunity, one which central government must help facilitate and which local government must embrace.

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