Headlines: October 18th, 2005

Local authorities can change the face of the environment across the country according to the Local Government Association’s Environment board, which has launched the Greening Communities Campaign in an attempt to demonstrate the importance of council leadership in environmental management. The campaign is designed to highlight ways that councils can be creative in delivering projects to improve environmental quality and is linked to wider priorities such as reducing crime and improving health.Authorities will be given the chance to use the toolkits offered by the campaign to run local greening communities initiatives, to promote grassroots projects and to be inspired by case studies of best practice that are set out in vision documents that will available on the Greening Communities’ website.

Councillor Paula Baker, Deputy Chair of the LGA’s environment board said it was simply impossible to imagine how the environment in a local area could be improved without leadership. Many environmental services, she said, were offered by a whole range of agencies that were currently fragmented in their approach. “Local authorities are the only organisation which can join-up environmental management locally in a meaningful way, link it to wider priorities like promoting health and reducing crime, and actually make a difference,” she said.

The LGA, she added, was demonstrating what could be achieved when local authorities were at the helm, joining up all the services on offer and steering themselves towards becoming local environment champions.

The Local Environmental Quality Minister, Ben Bradshaw has welcomed the LGA’s campaign and has highlighted how strong leadership, both nationally and locally was needed to create momentum, to invigorate communities and join with public sentiment to make communities clean and green.

He said the local environmental quality agenda was moving from a focus on some very important aspects of the immediate environment towards being better aligned to deliver environmentally sensitive and sustainable communities in a much broader sense, he said. Government, local authorities, other agencies and the voluntary sector needed to reinvigorate community action. He challenged local authorities to keep pace with what was a citizen-led agenda and to work with the Government to deliver their aspirations.