Windsor and Maidenhead Council leaving the LGA

February 25, 2011 9:35 AM

It was almost 12 months ago that Windsor and Maidenhead council gave notice to leave the Local Government Association. After meeting the LGA’s peculiar rule to provide a year’s notice, many councils regularly give notice of leaving just to keep their options open, but they are going to follow through and actually leave. Over the past year officials in the council have been weighing up exactly what they get in return for their massive £40,000 annual subscription. The Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel wanted to be sure that any cancellation of the subscription wouldn’t impact on residents. But when assessing potential successes they concluded that:

“It is difficult to ascertain whether the impact of lobbying by the LGA has enabled these activities and changes to take place or whether they were the result of action already underway, from representations made by councils themselves or from action agreed by the newly elected government. Certainly it is known that points 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 [in the report] are areas where direct intervention by the Borough or new Ministers has made the headway required.”


Additionally many of the benefits of being associated with the LGA can be obtained elsewhere at greatly reduced costs on an ad hoc basis. Windsor and Maidenhead paid over £40,000 last year and they have confirmed continuing that membership doesn’t represent good value.

Councillor Liam Maxwell, a cabinet member, has singled out a particular piece of evidence in the report: “Email alerts are issued by the LGA with advance notice of potentially negative stories, highlighting potential ‘knocking’ stories and preparing robust responses.” He responds – “Yes, our membership fee pays for advice on how to defend ourselves from criticism. Surely councillors and officers who are on top of their briefs can do this for themselves and don’t need to be spoon-fed by a publicly funded lobbying organisation?” Absolutely right.

The LGA is the embodiment of taxpayers’ money chasing more taxpayers money. It is a well fed organisation that claims to represent the interests of local councils yet over the years has too often thoughtlessly defended councils at every juncture whatever the situation or incident, as Cllr Maxwell points out.  Good councils are sold short. This is not an organisation that acts in the interests of taxpayers, whose local authorities blindly continue to throw tens of thousands of pounds its way every year.  It is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic for taxpayers’ money to be spent supporting lobbying for the interests of staff and politicians who have the power to hand it out.

At a time when councils should be looking carefully at their budgets to save money, councils can and should follow the example set by Windsor and Maidenhead and leave the LGA. Membership should be one of the first things to trim back on. If your council has not considered this as a possible saving then you should write to your councillors to see why not. You can do that through this website.It was almost 12 months ago that Windsor and Maidenhead council gave notice to leave the Local Government Association. After meeting the LGA’s peculiar rule to provide a year’s notice, many councils regularly give notice of leaving just to keep their options open, but they are going to follow through and actually leave. Over the past year officials in the council have been weighing up exactly what they get in return for their massive £40,000 annual subscription. The Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel wanted to be sure that any cancellation of the subscription wouldn’t impact on residents. But when assessing potential successes they concluded that:

“It is difficult to ascertain whether the impact of lobbying by the LGA has enabled these activities and changes to take place or whether they were the result of action already underway, from representations made by councils themselves or from action agreed by the newly elected government. Certainly it is known that points 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 [in the report] are areas where direct intervention by the Borough or new Ministers has made the headway required.”


Additionally many of the benefits of being associated with the LGA can be obtained elsewhere at greatly reduced costs on an ad hoc basis. Windsor and Maidenhead paid over £40,000 last year and they have confirmed continuing that membership doesn’t represent good value.

Councillor Liam Maxwell, a cabinet member, has singled out a particular piece of evidence in the report: “Email alerts are issued by the LGA with advance notice of potentially negative stories, highlighting potential ‘knocking’ stories and preparing robust responses.” He responds – “Yes, our membership fee pays for advice on how to defend ourselves from criticism. Surely councillors and officers who are on top of their briefs can do this for themselves and don’t need to be spoon-fed by a publicly funded lobbying organisation?” Absolutely right.

The LGA is the embodiment of taxpayers’ money chasing more taxpayers money. It is a well fed organisation that claims to represent the interests of local councils yet over the years has too often thoughtlessly defended councils at every juncture whatever the situation or incident, as Cllr Maxwell points out.  Good councils are sold short. This is not an organisation that acts in the interests of taxpayers, whose local authorities blindly continue to throw tens of thousands of pounds its way every year.  It is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic for taxpayers’ money to be spent supporting lobbying for the interests of staff and politicians who have the power to hand it out.

At a time when councils should be looking carefully at their budgets to save money, councils can and should follow the example set by Windsor and Maidenhead and leave the LGA. Membership should be one of the first things to trim back on. If your council has not considered this as a possible saving then you should write to your councillors to see why not. You can do that through this website.

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