Headlines: July 30th, 2003

The Local Government Association is planning to make more effective use of council leaders to put its case to government. The association also intends to give more priority to gathering and promoting evidence of local government’s positive impact on public services.The measures have been announced in response to the latest audit of the LGA’s impact in Westminster and Whitehall. It highlighted the association’s use of too small a number of leading politicians and the weakness of its evidence base to support the “moral case” for local democratic government.

For the audit, MORI interviewed around 60 MPs, ministers, civil servants and journalists as well as heads of professional and trade organizations and charities, to find out what key opinion formers felt about the LGA and its effectiveness. Their responses were then analysed by consultants LLM Communications.

The company summarised people’s views of the LGA as being an effective institution “well plugged into” Whitehall; holding local government together and much improved on the former associations; needing to use current leading members more effectively and strong on reacting to legislation but weaker on setting the political agenda.

LLM made a number of key suggestions on how the association could develop. These included more effective use of members as champions and disciplined lobbyists; winning the evidence battle on local public services; the promotion of success and putting local government at the heart of new localism.

Sir Brian Briscoe, Chief Executive of the LGA said he was confident it could rise to the challenge to become a more single-minded and agenda-setting organization.