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District councils ‘central cog in growth drive’

By Vivienne Russell | 8 March 2013

District councils need to be at the forefront of the drive to return the UK to economic growth, the New Local Government Network has said.

A report from the think-tank, published yesterday, argued that districts can be a ‘central cog’ of local growth. It included examples of districts partnering with developers and businesses to attract investment and employment to their areas.

The NLGN’s research also found that a majority of district council chief executives are confident that their councils will be able to deliver short- and medium-term priorities but need to adopt new ways of doing things and drive growth from the bottom up.

NLGN director Simon Parker said: ‘Far from retreating in the face of the cuts, many district councils have chosen to lead the way in driving growth, reshaping their organisations and sharing management teams.

‘This is a time of profound change in the shires, but this report suggests that confident districts have their best days ahead of them.’

The report, The road not taken: new ways of working for district councils, was supported by the District Councils’ Network. Tony Jackson, the network’s lead member for new ways of working, said the report ‘marks the beginning of the debate among districts and the type of councils they want to be in the future’.

He added: ‘It is important now that we support districts to recognise the paths they can take and work with them to achieve their visions for the future.’

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Something of a cultural change would be needed to transform this from a self-serving and somewhat unlikely aspiration. Some months ago, my company looked at renting a new property in the town centre. We needed listed building consent to make internal changes (a formality) which would have cost £50,000, all to be spent with local tradesmen. The planning officer said she could see us in 3 weeks' time. The approval process another 6 weeks. Says it all. We went elsewhere.

A NM (08/03/2013 15:58:46)

Sounds more like Districts desperately trying to find a new role. They know they will be rolled into much larger unitaries sooner or later.

Mike Keene (08/03/2013 20:03:38)