Headlines: July 9th, 1998

Sir Jeremy Beecham, Chair of the Local Government Association, which represents councils nationally, has called on councils to take up new challenges in order to regain ground lost during the last two decades of coping with squeezes on budgets and on town hall power.

He said: “It is essential that local government demonstrates its willingness to take advantage of a new legislative framework which we hope will encourage innovation and experimentation at local level. We need to be seen to be making progress.”

He was speaking to 1500 councillors and officers at the LGA’s annual conference, which comes ahead of a White Paper on local government expected later this summer. Councils are hoping for new freedoms to take on a greater civic leadership role, to experiment with new ways of involving the public in democracy, and commercial freedom to deliver better value for money on core services like refuse collection and street cleaning. The LGA is asking for demonstrations by councils that they can deliver if given the chance.