Headlines: September 13th, 2005

Government ministers and local councils will face a call this week to agree a timetable for measures to roll back what local government leaders see as “the tide of Whitehall micro-management” and to deliver an ambitious programme of improvements in public services.The Local Government Association will unveil its new manifesto and will use the occasion to declare that ministers should acknowledge the great strides that councils have made in improving their performance. The LGA wants that recognition to take the form of steps to cut red tape and to give local authorities the lead in introducing efficiency drivers across the public sector.

The LGA says that without waiting for the Government to act, councils will pledge to press on with delivering measurable improvements in services and in giving local people more say over how they are provided.

The manifesto, entitled ” Future is Local – the next four years” will be launched tomorrow by the LGA chairman, Sir Sandy Bruce -Lockhart, at the London School of Economics. Sir Sandy said the UK now had a uniquely centralised system of controlling public services from Whitehall that was wasting the public’s money and holding back improvements in public services. ” We are calling on government for an agreed timetable of action to allow local government to lead the way and free up frontline delivery to improve public services.”

The manifesto sets out proposed actions that it wants both councils and Whitehall to commit to. It calls on the Government to reduce national targets, transferring transfer power to councils and to address the need for a sustainable council finance framework. The LGA wants councils to be empowered to lead public sector efficiency and innovation and it wants Government regulation and inspection burdens to be replaced with local improvement systems. Finally the manifesto calls for the removal of barriers in flexible local mechanisms to resources council priorities.

The core measure for councils are a commitment to measurable improvements and greater efficiencies in service delivery, the establishment of a clear set of goals for local delivery, to ensure that actions are both accountable and visible to local communities and the sharing of power with residents through consultation.

The manifesto will be presented to councils at regional workshops through the autumn designed to prompt debate about the best ways to achieve better services.