16 April 2004
Town hall leaders have published a manifesto for local government as part of a drive to exploit the growing debate over 'new localism' in the run-up to the next general election.
The Local Government Association believes that, with each of the three major political parties professing their commitment to greater decentralisation, local governance will be a key election battleground.
Its manifesto, which is out for consultation before the final version is published in the summer, outlines what authorities will require to help central government achieve its national policy objectives.
The LGA is hoping that by setting out its vision of how local government should develop, it will be able to influence the election manifestos of the major parties.
It is calling for business planning by government agencies and other local bodies to be properly integrated with each council's Local Public Service Agreement and community strategy.
This should be accompanied, it says, by a finance regime that bases funding from central government on LPSAs and allows authorities to raise up to 75% of their income through local taxes and charges.
The LGA also wants councillors, as elected representatives at the grassroots level, to be represented on all other local bodies and service providers.
Association chair Sir Jeremy Beecham said the document was a blueprint for the future direction of local government. 'Ministers must rise to the challenge by trusting communities and their elected representatives with the independence and opportunity to create the future they want,' he said.